Queering Animal Liberation

VINE (originally Eastern Shore Chicken Sanctuary) was founded in 2000 in a conservative rural region famed for the invention of factory farming. As a same-sex couple, one non-gender-normative and the other of Arab descent, the sanctuary’s cofounders faced stares, snubs, sneers and even outright harassment while missing out on the very real material benefits enjoyed by married heterosexual couples.

In 2002, the sanctuary was featured in an episode of the PBS series In the Life. Preparing for that show forced us to think through our ideas about the linkages between speciesism and anti-LGBTQ bias. Later that year, a couple of pair-bonded male ducks moved into the sanctuary, provoking further reflection. Since then, the sanctuary has worked hard to illuminate the connections between the struggles for animal liberation and LGBTQ rights. We’ve published articles, organized online work groups, and criss-crossed the country giving workshops to (and facilitating discussions among) activists working in both movements.

In recent years, we’ve seen an upsurge of academic interest in this exciting and evolving topic of thought and action. We urge scholars new to this subject not to forget the ACTION aspect. While we do need to continue to think, we cannot afford to forget that lives are on the line, whether these be LGBTQ teens contemplating suicide or queer ducks locked up in foie gras factories. We also encourage scholars to acknowledge the fact that ideas about these intersections arose from discussions among activists, bubbling up to (rather than trickling down from) academia.

Follow the links below to readings and other resources. Whether your primary area of interest be animal liberation or LGBTQ rights, begin to think creatively about these two movements might join forces. Then, jump in and do something to help make that happen!

Readings

Websites

Timeline of Selected Sanctuary Work on this Intersection

  • 2013—”Queering Animal Liberation” lecture at Resistance Ecology conference (OR)
  • 2013—”Environmental & LGBTQ Activism and the Biodiversity of Sexuality” lecture at Oberlin College (OH)
  • 2012—”Queer Eros and the Ethos of Care” (Presentation at the Wesleyan University “Finding a Niche for All Animals” conference in honor of the late Marti Kheel)
  • 2011—International Women’s Day address at Hollins University (VA): “Some of those penguins were gay! Coming out for animals on International Women’s Day.
  • 2010—Workshop at Their Lives, Our Voices conference (MN): “Queering Animal Liberation”
  • 2009—Jean-Claude dies of liver failure. Previously healthy Jean-Paul follows within a week.
  • 2008—Set up “Queering Animal Liberation” website
  • 2006—”Queering the Common Oppression of Women and Animals” presentation at University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee (WI)
  • 2006—Facilitated meeting of LGBTQ animal advocates at AR2006 annual national Animal Rights Conference (DC); followed up by setting up online work group for meeting participants
  • 2005—Cofacilitated “Coming Out for Animals: Queer and Animal Liberation” workshop at national Grassroots Animal Rights Conference (NY)
  • 2005—”Gay Liberation and Animal Liberation: What’s the Connection?” presentation/workshop at Syracuse University (NY)
  • 2004—”Animal Liberation and Gay Liberation: What’s the Connection?” workshop for Rochester community activists (NY)
  • 2003—”Queering Animal Liberation” presentation at Bard College (NY)
  • 2003—”Queering Animal Liberation” presentation at Central Michigan University (MI)
  • 2002—Led “Queering Animal Liberation” workshop for gay and animal rights activists in Salt Lake City (UT)
  • 2002—Foie gras factory refugees flock to the sanctuary, two of whom—Jean-Paul and Jean-Claude—are a bonded pair
  • 2002—Outlined links between gay/lesbian rights and animal liberation on episode of PBS series In the Life