Yesterday, I mentioned a study that explored some of the assumptions people make about vegan men. The study revealed that people perceive guys who go vegan to be less masculine than their meat-eating peers. (Unless the guys have gone vegan for health reasons instead of ethical ones, in which case, no one gives them much thought. Compassion is for femmes, apparently.)
The link between veganism and effeminacy interests me because it’s related to another linkage, one between veganism and homosexuality.
Now, I hope it goes without saying that I don’t give a damn about traditional gender roles of “masculine” and “feminine”. And the link between homosexuality and effeminacy? Socially, there may be something there, but as for genetic disposition, that’s just utter crap.
However, setting aside issues of gender, I do think there’s a link between gayness and veganism. At the very least, as I discuss in my book, I think being gay can make men more open to being vegan.
In my own life, that’s because as a gay man, I grew up feeling very, very marginalized. As a result, I’ve had a tendency to empathize with other disenfranchised groups like women, people of color, and, yes, animals.
I haven’t exhausted the topic yet, but I know I’m onto something. An article published a couple of years ago focuses on the deep ties PETA has forged between gays and animal rights activists. Among the more interesting bits:
“I’ve been at PETA since 1985 and even back then a lot of our volunteers were gay,” said Dan Mathews, senior vice president at PETA. “I think there has always been an affinity between gay activists and animal rights activists, because I think when you see the mockery that some people have about the rights of animals, gay people have that same mockery that we’ve faced ourselves, the cruelty and the indifference to suffering. At an activist level, I think we share that.”
Despite occasional backlash against its use of LGBT celebrities, PETA has never backed down from being inclusive, and that decision has only helped it grow its membership.PETA also established an inclusive environment early on that no doubt helped it attract LGBT volunteers and employees. It hired out individuals like Mathews in its initial years, participated in Pride festivals, held events at gay clubs featuring well-known drag stars, and welcomed musician Morrissey as its first out spokesperson in 1985—and Morrissey’s support continues to this day….
“k.d. lang, when she fronted our ‘Meat Stinks’ campaign back in the early ’90s, a lot of the meat industry response was really homophobic as well as anti-animal and that brought a lot of gays to our side as well,” Mathews said.
And then there’s this, which only reaffirms the crush I have on Tim Gunn:
For example, Mathews said that PETA’s relationship with Tim Gunn has been particularly important. Gunn has been involved in numerous ways including hosting video exposes of what happens to animals in the various skin trades before they are made into products such as leather shoes, fur coats or wool jackets.
“He brought me in to speak at Liz Claiborne’s headquarters and we worked with him to eliminate fur from all 21 fashion lines at Liz Claiborne.”
As I’ve said before: not all vegans are gay, or even queer, and not all gays are vegan — not even close. But when it comes to feeling compassion for others, I believe that being gay has given some of us a leg up.