LGBTQ+ Pride And The Vegan Connection
By Allison Lellos M.Ed, INHC, CIHC
When you come out as gay, everyone wants to know when and how you knew. For some, it was a moment in time, a defining event or experience that hit them like lightning. For others, it was slow and subtle, like putting together the pieces of a puzzle over many days, weeks, months, or even years.
One similarity among many individuals during this process is feeling “drawn” to anything LGBTQ+ related — or taking a particularly strong interest in content or LGBTQ+ issues. You begin to feel a level of empathy, of relationship, of investment in the lives of the queer community. This is not to say that allies do not feel this same way, but when this overwhelming interest strikes a particular chord in the heart of an LGBTQ+ person, it is hard to ignore.
Realizing My Truth & Discovering My Own LGBTQ+ Pride
While it may seem straight-forward to assume that someone’s identity is just a label and predictable, there is so much more to a person’s story and how their identity shapes them as a person. When I came out, I realized that my being gay was so much more than who I was attracted to — my identity influences everything from how I dress, to what I purchase, how I think, what values I hold, and how I carry myself through the world. I pay that much more attention to issues concerning the LGBTQ+ community, and I find myself at peace when I am among others who know this and live this as well. Initially, when I shared this deeply personal realization, I saw it as “pleading my case” and trying to convince others how big a deal it is to finally realize who you are. Over time, I realized that by sharing who I am I was adding to the global conversation. I was changing people’s stereotypical perceptions, one conversation at a time.
Similar to how LGBTQ+ individuals come out about their identity, we as vegans often need to come out to the world and to our families. Our empathy and passion for animal rights may have manifested over days, weeks, months, and even years before deciding to live a vegan lifestyle. Maybe it started with cutting out red meat and then you slowly made the transition over time. Or perhaps some of us went “cold tofu” and knew it was time to make the change. Once we start to feel the connection to our planet’s most innocent creatures and begin to understand their suffering, we begin to feel empowered and determined.
Finding the Connection
As vegans, we also need to stay true to what we believe and how we want to live. Our veganism influences how we dress, what we purchase, how we think, the values we hold, and how we carry ourselves through the world. Our veganism has given us the gift of deep empathy and we are called to care and to action when we witness injustices in the world.
When I came out, there was a level of hesitation and uneasiness that came along with it; there was no way to know if my family and friends would accept me, how the world would view me, and when I would reach a point of comfort and confidence in myself. Making the decision to be vegan was similar; I worried about how those close to me would react, if I would be a burden at family dinners, if all the stereotypical thoughts of a vegan would be attached to me as a person.
What I realized in both situations is that it was about living my life by following my heart and not being held back by my head. Is it hard to be authentically yourself? You bet. In the end will you regret it? Never. By living with compassion and living our truth, we will set an example, raise the bar, and change the world.
Allison DeStefano Lellos lives in New Hampshire, USA with her son and two fur-babies. She is a full-time health/physical education teacher, certified health and wellness coach, yoga instructor, and owner of Karma Kids NH. Allison enjoys strong cups of coffee, running, writing, and spending time outdoors. Allison is a happy, healthy vegan of over 12 years!
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