As long as I could remember, I always knew that I wasn’t just attracted to men. I was obsessed with female characters in books and movies, most notably Emma Watson, whose posters I had all over my bedroom. For the longest time though, I thought I just wanted to be like her, or be her friend. Only in my teens I learned about the term “Bisexual.” When I heard this, it clicked. Yet, I lived in a very small village with no representation of the LGBTQ+ community. I didn’t know of a single gay person at my school for the longest time. After being in a relationship with a man whom I really loved for almost four years, moving away for college, and going abroad, I finally realized that I could just be myself and did not have to limit myself to the social norms inflicted on all of us. I could be with whomever I wanted. No matter their gender identity.
While studying abroad in Australia, I dated both men and women and lived just the way I wanted—openly and without any fear of repercussion. It was during that time that I went vegan. After watching the documentary Earthlings, I stopped consuming animal products overnight. Nothing could bring me back from seeing the animals’ extreme suffering just so humans can have ten minutes of pleasure on their plate.
Later on, while doing research for my Bachelor Thesis on LGBTQ+ Tourism, I found many severe issues surrounding the LGBTQ+ community. Where they can and cannot travel due to legal and social restrictions, how they can present themselves depending on where they are, how their life is oftentimes more difficult and sometimes even fearful, based solely on who they are and who they love.
As a Bisexual, I frequently encounter the everlasting issue of “Bi-erasure.” While I am lucky with my family and friends, who are supportive no matter what, I have often been labeled as “being in a phase,” “not knowing what I want,” “doing it for attention,” “secretly being lesbian, but just not fully out yet.” This has frequently made me feel unseen, disrespected, and invalid.
Quickly, I realized that these are the exact feelings many animals must have on a daily basis. Seeing them being confined in small cages reminded me of the many LGBTQ+ people who are confined by societal norms and can’t openly be who they are. Seeing the sadness, the terror, and distress in animals’ eyes while they are being neglected, tortured, and eventually killed in slaughterhouses for human consumption, reminded me of all the LBGTQ+ people who are neglected, tortured, and even killed daily, just because of who they love.
Injustices are injustices—whether they are against members of the LGBTQ+ community or against animals. We all deserve compassion, acceptance, and a life free of fear and oppression.
Accepting myself, not confining myself to norms that society tries to impose on me, and fully embracing who I am has made me a much more compassionate vegan. I do not want a single animal to have to feel like it’s invisible, invalid, or unworthy of love.
We are all equal and we should treat each other with respect and dignity. There is no room for marginalization, homophobia and erasure, or speciesism in my world—and neither should it be in yours.
Get more like this—Sign up for our daily inspirational newsletter for exclusive content!
Photo: Abo Ngalonkulu via Unsplash