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I quit eating meat in 1976, the same year I turned fifteen, came out, and went to my first gay rights rally (not in that order). When I say that I ‘came out,’ I mean that I resolved to never lie about my love for women, never deliberately pass for straight, and never deny a lover by calling her ‘him.’ To do so, I felt, would be to betray not only the women I desired, but my deepest self.My decision to quit meat was equally simple. Somehow, through the confluence of midseventies influences, I knew that vegetarianism was a particularly healthy way to eat. One day, quite suddenly, I realized: If I didn’t need to eat meat to stay alive, then eating meat was killing for pleasure. I couldn’t live with myself, wouldn’t be the nonviolent person I believed myself to be, if I killed other beings–beings who had their own desires–merely to satisfy my desire for the taste of their flesh.Looking back, I see that both decisions, coming out and quitting meat, are about the interplay of desire and integrity. Sometimes integrity means being true to your desires, and sometimes integrity requires you to refuse your desires. I also notice that both decisions were about bodies and consent. A primary tenet of gay liberation is that what consenting people do with each other’s bodies is nobody else’s business. And, of course, eating meat is something you do to somebody else’s body without their consent.

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