the only vegan sausage i eat is tofurky
This is a reposting of a Facebook post I received from Allan Yaxon. Allan has taught me a lot in the past couple of years about issues of equality and intersectionality. I think that this post is important and insightful and I am thankful Allan granted permission to let me share this on Vegina. Enjoy!
The only vegan sausage I eat is Tofurky
By Allan Yaxon
Funny, right? Unfortunately it’s not so much fun sometimes. If any of you know me really well, you’ve probably sat through some of my boy rants (that vary from size, with only a few of you getting the full on, depressing ones). If you ever sat through some of these rants, I personally thank you, because I honestly could not survive without so many caring people listening to my experiences as a queer vegan. I joked with a friend a few weeks ago, that if I decided to pursue post-graduate studies, my dissertation would be called : A psychological perspective of queer, vegan feminist men and the social implications it has on their dating life. I guess you can think of this as a mini dissertation. Actually, just think of it as an angry, annoyed, but informative rant.
Like many ethical vegans, I see veganism as a lifestyle and not just a dietary choice. I believe animals exist for their own reasons and think their oppression is comparable to the oppression of wimmin, people of color, and of course, queer people. Just like most people wouldn’t date a racist, sexist, or homophobe, I believe it is a valid decision not to want to date someone who isn’t vegan. And, if you’re heterosexual (or at least attracted to the opposite sex), this might not be a difficult feat to accomplish. Being queer (and liking mostly the same sex), however, comes with different choices (or lack of) that may lead to frustration. I don’t wish to speak for every queer vegan out there, but I’m writing from my own experience. If you’re queer and vegan, please respond with your own experiences to see if there is some sort of commonality.
Through all my ranting, I have noticed there are some pretty standard responses that I get from heterosexual vegans that trivialize my experiences such as:
- When I briefly decided that I wanted to date meat eaters to explore my sexuality (since I grew up very repressed), one common response I got was “You should just wait for the right person. Relationships aren’t that big of a deal anyway”. I also re-call another time when I told a few friends that I’ve never been on a real date to which I was responded “First dates are overrated anyway”. Though well intentioned, these responses did not take into account of what it feels like to grow up repressed in a homophobic society. It may be easy for heterosexuals to “wait” for the right person or to make relationships sound like a trivial thing, but that is because these things are easy for heterosexuals to do. If your sexuality was inhibited for most of your life, things like just being with a person you’re attracted to become important. It isn’t something you overlook because it is something you have been prohibited from becoming involved in your whole life. IT IS a big deal (at least for me).
- Apart from being told that I should just ‘wait’, my experiences as a queer vegan have also been trivialized in the past whenever heterosexual vegans tell me that they ‘have it just as bad’. Though it is true that dating sucks in general, especially when you’re vegan, by trying to compare my experiences (which are completely different) to their experiences, they make it seem like I am being overly dramatic or that my hardships are just as hard as theirs. First of all, last time I checked, we live in a society that privileges heterosexuality, so my experiences and a heterosexual’s experiences are not the same. Also, not being able to find a suitable partner might be more attributed to personal factors (like personality) for heterosexuals rather than having a small, almost non-existent dating pool to choose from. When it comes to liking someone without having those feelings reciprocated back, the reason for rejection for a heterosexual will most likely not be because of their gender. A heterosexual will not walk into an event, potluck, festival, or other social gathering without, in theory, finding someone that they are attracted to that is also attracted to them. And finally, the likelihood for a heterosexual vegan to develop feelings for a person that is queer is not likely to happen. So no, experiences are not the same. At least for me, developing crushes on heterosexual vegan men is sometimes almost inevitable. The hardships that come from liking someone who will never like you because of your gender/sex are difficult and include, at least for me: Low self-esteem, body issues, frustration, hate for one’s genitals/gender expression, and depression. Though, like I said before, heterosexual vegans might go through this, the likelihood of it happening is not as big, and the likelihood of it CONSTANTLY happening is not as big, either. So once again, heterosexual vegans don’t have it ‘just as bad’.
Now, I don’t want to seem like I have something against heterosexuals, because I don’t. I hang out with heterosexuals all the time, and my experiences in the social/dating realm are not their fault. What I would like, however, would be a better understanding of my experiences. No, I’m not ‘too boy crazy’ and no I don’t need to ‘just get laid’. These frustrations have real implication for my life and they aren’t something trivial. The lack of queer vegan men to explore my sexuality with has left me feeling like I’m still closeted regardless of how open I am about my sexuality. It makes me feel like the ‘background gay’ for having an almost one-dimensional, simplified identity (by seeing others explore their sexual identities without being able to explore/develop mine) . It makes me feel left out (especially with events such as vegan speed-dating that are extremely heteronormative/hetero-focused).
I came out around the same time I went vegan, thinking my life would pick up after I would no longer be oppressing animals and would no longer be oppressed, but all the annoying hardships I have gone through since I went vegan and came out have only left me jaded. And it isn’t my fault. If there’s anything worth noting in this little rant, I think it’s the fact that I believe the animal rights movement has done a shit job in doing outreach in other communities. The lack of queer people (as well as people of color) demonstrates how much animal rights has concentrated itself in a specific group of people. If we want to have a more powerful movement, we should try to open up to more communities because a revolution will not be accomplished in the direction we’re headed. And if it gets me a date in the process, then even better!
/end of rant.