By Amber Nelson
I think a lot about how to be an ally. How can my actions best fight and change systems of oppression from which I have directly benefitted? Is there something more I can be than an ally, as someone fully committed to fighting injustice on all levels?
When it comes to allyship for animals, I believe that you cannot fight for animal justice unless you are also fighting for social and environmental justice. Queer activists fighting for animal justice have been showing us how to connect the fights for many years, and showing us that the fights are really the same fight bringing together issues of body ownership, body objectification, and environmentalism1. Considering that 27% of LGBT adults experience food insecurity compared to 17% of non-LGBT adults2, the work of these individuals highlights how food justice is also a part of this conjoined fight.
Take the work of Pattrice Jones, who has written and lectured on speciesism and its interconnections with racism, homophobia, and transphobia. For more information on animal liberation and ecofeminism read her books Aftershock: Confronting Trauma in a Violent World: A Guide for Activists and Their Allies and The Oxen at the Intersection: A Collision.
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Another activist in this realm is Michelle Carrera, a queer Puerto Rican activist who founded Chilis on Wheels, Casa Vegana de la Comunidad, and the Microsanctuary Resource Project. She is a believer in the power of mutual aid and solidarity work as the keys to collective liberation3.
For a heartwarming story of activism and animal rights, look to Derek Walter and Steve Jenkins. Derek and Steve adopted Esther believing her to be a micro-pig. It soon became apparent she was no micro, but a full-size pig of a breed usually used for food consumption. Upon this realization, they adopted a plant-based lifestyle, and have opened a pig sanctuary. In their words “Veganism is about living cruelty-free. Cruelty-free to animals. Cruelty-free to the environment, and cruelty-free to yourself4."
For another fun follow, Jabari Brisport is the first openly gay black state senator in New York – and a vegan activist. “I think anyone who has felt some sort of victimization or felt like they have been ‘othered’ or they had been made to feel ‘less than’ can then empathize when someone else is being victimized, whether that someone is a human-animal or a non-human animal5,” he has commented on the conjunction of animal rights and other social rights movements.
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For more information on these and other queer activists working on food and animal justice, read this list, written by Z. Zane McNeill, a nonbinary activist-scholar, ten-year vegan, and co-editor of Queer and Trans Voices: Achieving Liberation Through Consistent Anti-Oppression.
For more LGBTQIA+ influencers you can follow who embrace and promote a plant-based diet for the love of animals, check out this list by Kat Smith.
And this Pride, keep learning about allyship, and consider the next level of our fight for animal and LGBTQIA+ rights.
(1) Parsons, Katheryn. (2021, April 8). Aligning veganism with gender equality and feminism. https://theveganreview.com/aligning-veganism-gender-equality-and-feminism/
(2) Brown, T., Romero, A., and Gates, G. (2016, July). Food Insecurity and SNAP Participation in the LGBTQ Community. https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/publications/lgbt-food-insecurity-snap/
(3) McNeill, Zane Z. (2021, June 1). 10 Contemporary Queer Vegans You Need to Know About. https://vegnews.com/2021/6/contemporary-queer-vegans
(4) Derek Walter and Steve Jenkins (2020). Esther the Wonder Pig. https://www.estherthewonderpig.com/faq
(5) Animal Equality. (2020, June 20). 11 LGBTQ+ Vegans Who Are Changing the World. https://animalequality.org/blog/2020/06/29/lgbtq-vegan-influencers/