I heard about the vicious gay-bashing of Mercy for Animals founder Nathan Runkle a few days ago but didn’t want to write anything until I was sure Nathan wanted the attack to be publicized. Now that Mercy for Animals has put out a press release about the incident, I guess it’s safe to speak of it.
A lot of people in the AR movement have been calling me, wondering what we can do. Gay bashing is a lot like rape in that it’s especially important to be mindful of what the victim wants when framing a response. So, first, we can all look out for what Nathan and Mercy for Animals say about what should be done. Next, we can use informed inference to figure out what else might be appropriate.
The press release says that Nathan wants sexual orientation included in Ohio’s hate crimes legislation. So, one thing that those of us who know and love — or just know of and respect — Nathan can do is join the effort to make that happen.
Next, we know that Mercy for Animals, as the press release states, “has long worked to bridge the gap between the common prejudices which lead to oppression and abuses faced by both animals and minorities.” MFA has marched in gay pride parades carrying a banner reading “NO ONE IS FREE WHILE OTHERS ARE OPPRESSED” and has picketed gay rodeos.
So, if you’re somebody who cares about or works on LGBTQ issues but has not (yet) integrated the animals into your analysis of oppression, let this attack on a gay man who has dedicated himself to animal rights motivate you to educate yourself about the connections. And, if you’re a straight animal liberationist or veg*n advocate who hasn’t thought deeply about your heterosexual privilege and what obligations you might have to divest yourself of that, let this near-deadly attack on a gay animal advocate remind you (if Proposition 8 and Obama’s selection of a homophobic preacher to speak at his inauguration did not) that homophobia is still alive and dangerous.
In both instances: Educate yourself about the intersections and then figure out how you might integrate what you learn into your activism and your daily life. Those of us who are already hip to that particular intersection ought to realize that there’s always more for us to learn too. Finally, all of us can be inspired by Nathan’s relentless activism and take up the charge to do just a little bit more while he’s recovering from this terrible trauma.