Jan 4, 2009

on queer animals

The founder and director of Mercy for Animals, Nathan Runkle, was gay bashed a few days ago, putting him in very serious condition. In a culture where people like to "focus" or pretend that the thing they are paying attention to is more pressing than other things, an incident like this reminds us it ain't so.

Mercy for Animals is one of a handful of groups that go to events like gay rodeos and try to point out that it's destructive to both the animals and the queers. OK, yeah, I have a special dislike for rodeos since I come from place that has "rodeo vacation" instead of spring break. But c'mon, it's a good example of why putting on all the worst parts of masculinity like a costume, in magnified form, is grotesque. I loves me all kinds of queers, even some with stubble and swaggers, but there's too much macho worship going on with our beloved gay boys. Exerting control over others doesn't make one stronger, or more virile. The gay rodeo is just one site of many many that shows why animal advocates need to care about and understand queers, and why queers should extend their care to other groups. Queer bashing of animal rights leaders is another.

If you think your coming out struggle was the worst form of torture, think again. (Thought bubble here: factory farms.) If you think queers have it good because Ellen reruns show on TV and gay marriage is legal in CT & VT, you don't know a whole lot about queer life. If you think immigrants or homeless people or those on welfare are treated decently in the U.S., well, you live in an insular world.

All this isn't bad news. Sometimes when you reach out beyond your comfort zone, bother to learn about someone else and their struggle, it is very rewarding. You make connections, both emotional and intellectual ones. And, hey, then we're off to a good start in making things better, for a whole lot of people and animals.

I'm not trying to make light of a horrible thing that happened to this activist. But he is interested in opening people's eyes with it, and compelling them to action. If you care about your community, take the invitation.

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