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Our Hen House Launches “The Gay Animal Series,” Featuring Nathan Runkle

By Jasmin Singer — March 29, 2011

I’ve been waiting a very long time to make this announcement: Our Hen House’s Gay Animal series has officially launched, and we couldn’t have asked for a better first subject. The Gay Animal series is something Mariann and I have been wanting to create since Our Hen House began in January 2010. It will feature people who are speaking up for animal rights and gay rights — folks who are working to bridge the connections between the two movements.

The connections between the gay rights and animal rights movements has always been a very important theme in my own thinking about activism. Though I’ve written about it, and have even presented workshops at social justice conferences on the interconnections among social justice movements, my own thoughts on this subject are still a work in progress — something that I continue to explore and learn about. I’m very interested in others’ experiences with bridging social justice issues, including the LGBT/animal connection. In addition to the potential for awakening ourselves to others’ plights and fights — and having the opportunity to reach out to other communities with the animal rights message — exploring the connections can give us deeper insight (or perhaps our very first insight) into the dangers inherent in the “othering” mentality — you are different than me, which gives me the right to insert-the-blank.

Who better to start our Gay Animal series than Nathan Runkle, executive director and founder of Mercy for Animals? As we’ve previously talked about here in Our Hen House, Nathan — and Mercy for Animals — have been connecting the dots for years. But I want to stop rambling, because what Nathan has to say is thought-provoking, at-times revelatory, and poetic.

Welcome to The Gay Animal.


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(25) Readers Comments

  1. March 29, 2011 at 11:59 am

    Hooooray!

  2. March 29, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    Nathan is beyond brilliant! So articulate and moving. This really crystalizes so much and truly connects the dots. We're so lucky to have him.

  3. March 29, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    Thank you gals for doing this series! And amazing video.

  4. March 29, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    Fabulous! Thankyou Nathan. As a longtime ecofeminist, I believe that all oppressions are connected...please check out this video clip with Marti Kheel who helped me first really connect the dots back in the 80's when she started Feminists for Animal Rights. It would be GREAT if Our Henhouse did a interview/video with Marti. Here's an interview currently airing on Supreme Master TV (ironic name, I know!) http://video.yahoo.com/watch/7422513/19421456

  5. March 29, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    Thank you for that. :) Been vegan almost a year and loving every moment of it.

  6. March 29, 2011 at 10:30 pm

    Outstanding!! I too have thought about this connection but never so eloquently as Nathan here..... Great new series!!

  7. Sambee Hillyer
    March 30, 2011 at 4:06 am

    I've been waiting for this ladies, thank you so much. I'm hoping I can make a difference in my gay community and release the compassion that awaits in them all by making the connection. Nathan is adorable. Make sure he knows :) x

  8. Michelle Faucher
    March 30, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    Love Nathan. Love Jasmin & Mariann. Nice work, friends. xo

  9. Sue Dildine
    April 28, 2011 at 11:36 am

    Thank you for all your work. :)

  10. July 7, 2011 at 9:46 am

    I love the idea; I just wonder if "queer animal" could be a better fit. I identify as lesbian but there are a lot of queer people who feel marginalized by the traditional gay rights movement. Just some tasty vegan food for thought. Thank you for bringing this up, though. It's a connection I see far too infrequently in both the vegan and queer movements.

  11. August 31, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    I adore Nathan AND you!! MFA and OHH are creating such positive change and doing tremendous good for our precious animal friends, which extends benefits to humans and planet. Thank you for being born to do this work.

    • August 31, 2011 at 8:22 pm

      Thank you for that incredibly sweet comment, Allison. We so admire the work YOU do!! :-)

  12. September 3, 2011 at 11:39 am

    LOVE this. Thanks so much. I look forward to the day when the animal rights/vegan communities are safer places for all LGBTQ people.

  13. October 30, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    Although not vegan, and likely to never be, I can see the correlation between what Nathan has been through and what he see's farm animals go through. I personally choose to buy meat from more respectable places, such as Whole Foods, where I believe those animals were treated better. But again Kudos for the awareness and I do think people should eat less meat and more vegetables. But if you do choose to eat meat, use your purchasing power to help advance this cause along.

  14. Mariann Sullivan
    October 31, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    Hi Kal, i am so glad that you found Nathan's interview to be meaningful. I also want to say that I appreciate that you try to make eating choices from a compassionate place, though I am saddened by your statement that you are likely never to be vegan. Please don't close off the possibility of ever making this life-affirming change, even if it is not part of your life at the moment. I think the more that we learn about "humane" meat choices, the more it becomes clear that merely being better than factory farming is simply not enough. Even if you are completely boycotting factory farming (and just shopping at Whole Foods would not accomplish that), so many of these systems apply standards that are still deeply disturbing, such as never allowing the animals outside. Not to mention the land use issues presented by allowing animals adequate space. And, of course, all these systems require taking the life of someone who does not want to die. In any case, thanks so much for your comments, and for taking the time to watch the video.

  15. May 31, 2012 at 11:37 am

    While I agree with what Nathan has to say regarding equality and compassion, I did hear some buzz words in his speech regarding "power" and "taking the side of the weak against the strong" that were disturbing and, from my perspective, counterproductive. There's an implication here that gays/animals/blacks/minorities are weak and anyone who is not counted among those ranks or has a contradictory opinion is in the role of the "strong". In my mind, it's a tremendous disservice to all involved, particularly the LGBTQ community and the animals to imply that they are inherently weak and that those who disagree or are not part of those groups are in positions of "power". I truly believe that as long as humans (and it is a human perception, not an animal perception) see themselves as weak and oppressed, they will remain so. It's almost as if embracing the lifestyle of "learned helplessness" and choosing to stay there is a platform from which to preach. A person or group of people can be oppressed by having it forced on them, or can be oppressed by their own short sighted agendas. They can be counted among the "strong" and "powerful" simply by acknowleding the strength and power they possess within. It feels as though the us/them line is being drawn not by the "straight" community, or those who are not vegan, but by the community that IS. It's a passive aggressive maneuver - and I've seen it in all walks of life; gay/straight, black/white, male/female. When will we accept that there's good in all and the potential for "bad" in all? Being one or the other doesn't make you better, it makes you different and different is okay. It doesn't make you implicitly good - there are gray areas in there. Speaking as a bisexual woman I have been physically, verbally and emotionally abused by BOTH sexes and of both sexual orientations. But I will never classify myself as weak or oppressed. I am strong, I am powerful in my own right and I am comfortable with that. I am not vegan, either, but I don't think that that makes me "the enemy" or a bad or misguided person. I eat healthy, grow my own food (and that includes some livestock as well as fruits and vegetables) and generally mind my own business. I don't support factory farming and large corporations - I support self-sustainability in all its forms. If someone chooses to be vegan, that's fine with me. It's your lifestyle choice and I will never condemn you for your beliefs and the right to do as you choose. But please don't condemn me or express your "disappointment" in my choices in such a way as to make me feel less human or less "good" than people who disagree. THAT'S oppression as well and outright hypocricy to the mission you've chosen.

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