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the only vegan sausage i eat is tofurky

October 4, 2010

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!

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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:

  1. 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).
  1. 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.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. October 5, 2010 11:15 am

    Hi Allan! I identify as a queer vegan (hence my blog name :) ) I think it is a different experience for queer women than for queer men… I think there is still something “manly” or “machismo” associated the animal industry (another arena in which to seek dominance over others) and I think queer men struggle with their sexuality being perceived as such a challenge to gender normative behavior and are forced to face oppression on the basis of sexual identity (if not also gender expression) that perhaps it is difficult to challenge normative behavior in other areas. I recognize my position of privilege in writign this comment, as I have been partnered for nearly 4 years and have been vegan for just as long…my partner and I transitioned from vegetarian to vegan together. I see my queer identity and vegan identity as entirely interdependent and interrelated, something I discuss openly on my blog. I am shocked when I meet queer individuals (honestly, queer women especially… maybe I expect them to be even more sensitive to issues of oppression and dominance) who are NOT vegan. I have also helped many queers transition to veganism and a vegan lifestyle. I do agree these are two communities that ought to intersect more and do not. Sorry this is rambly and all over the place.

  2. Ryan Bethencourt permalink
    October 6, 2010 10:17 am

    Hey Allan,

    That was a very insightful article, thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. I agree with you that dating is not trivial when you’re a vegan, even as as a hetero male, I can only imagine how much more challenging it must be as a gay male.

    I’ve also had an evolving view of dating since I became Vegan about two years ago (after being a Vegetarian for 10 years). At first I would actively avoid the discussion of food (often avoiding the use of the word Vegan) whenever I’d date, particularly as I’d date based on attraction first which usually meant I had a 95% chance of dating a meat eater. Occasionally, I’d date women who thought my being Vegan was too “weird” or restrictive because they liked to eat out at certain restaurants or couldn’t understand the concept of not eating meat for ethical reasons but for the most part, the majority of women were at least partially accepting of my ‘quirk’ but that often hasn’t been enough for me.

    So I guess, my point is that dating as a Vegan is already challenging and of course it must be even more challenging if you’re gay and vegan. I am optimistic though for all vegans, if you think that LA and California are the beginning of our ethical revolution there will only be an increase in people choosing a more ethical lifestyle. Perhaps a good starting point might be for you to start a Vegan outreach program in places like WeHo, which might help you meet new ethical men and grow the vegan community. If you need some hetro help in handing out fliers I’m sure we (your fellow vegans) could help :)

  3. M Liz permalink
    January 30, 2011 3:18 pm

    I realize this post is old, but I just found it and I want to reach out. My life has taken a slightly different turn, but I feel we have some things in common. I identify as a bisexual vegan feminist woman in a monogamous heterosexual marriage. I, too, grew up in an extremely sexually repressive environment, and it wasn’t until I had been married to a man for over a year that I realized my desire to have a meaningful relationship with a woman. Additionally, the man I married started dating me when I was still a carnivore. While I have since transitioned to vegetarianism and then to veganism, he remains a carnivore. I’m stuck in a limbo where my current ideals do not match up to my reality.

    I agree with queerveganrunner in that being a male vegan IS harder than being a female vegan. I am an alpha-female type, but when I mention I’m a vegan to people, they begin to typecast me as feminine. As a gay male, I can only imagine that would be worse, especially in a society that sees masculinity as the pinnacle of perfection.

    Lately I’ve been looking for meaningful friendships, especially among queer women and vegans, and I’ve noticed the two groups rarely overlap. Its hard feeling like an outcast in every group you’re in. I also have people accuse me of seeking attention based on the things I believe. I’m like a poster child for all things “libruhl” in my conservative state.

    Anyway, I don’t have anything meaningful to offer, just know that I can identify with your frustration. Best of luck!

  4. March 29, 2011 9:59 pm

    Recently I wrote a blog entry offering a leftist critique of the ideology of “Green” environmentalism, deep ecology, eco-feminism, and lifestyle politics in general (veganism, “dumpster diving,” “buying organic,” “locavorism,” etc.). I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on the matter and any responses you might have to its criticisms.

  5. Jovian Parry permalink
    April 4, 2011 2:26 pm

    Well, first of all you did a hatchet job on ecofeminism – try reading something on ecofeminism that’s been written in the last decade rather than relying on straw-man arguments of essentialism. I suggest you look at Erika Cudworth’s “Developing Ecofeminist Theory: The Complexity of Difference” (2007, Palgrave Macmillian). Your critique of the term “speciesism” is similarly one-dimensional, and betrays a profound lack of understanding or engagement with the concept of intersectionality. Cudworth’s book should be good for helping you get better informed about that, too.

    On the plus side, you make some good (though hardly original) points about the limitations of consumption-based activism, and the ever-present threat of such activism being co-opted and swallowed whole by the capitalist juggernaut as just another lucrative niche market to exploit.

    • April 4, 2011 8:17 pm

      I will check out the book you recommend, and try to keep an open mind to it. We’ll see how things turn out; perhaps it might even deepen my criticisms and allow for a more ruthless critique.

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