Coming Out In the Name of Dog
Dogs embrace all of me: Not just my sexuality.
I am a lesbian who recently legally married her partner, now spouse, of almost 21 years in the state of Pennsylvania We both also happen to love dogs to the umpth degree, so I did what any dog-loving lesbian would do: I made a career out of that love.
This is my first piece for Curve Magazine online, but I am no stranger to the pages of this publication. I have been published in print several times, but I feared letting the world know about those articles. I feared what my readers might think, what might friends might do, and all those fears that, no doubt, a large contingency of folks reading this deal with every day. We all must come out of the closet in our own due time and if we choose to do so, in our own way. I “formally” came out in April of 2014 on my dog blog.
In fact, a Wigglebutt pushed me out of the closet. That Wigglebutt is my dog.
My blog is called Fidose of Reality. How real and true would I be if I didn't embrace all of my dog-loving life's path? How real and true would I be if I didn't include the struggles of those of us in the LGBT sector that so happen to raise dogs the same way non-LGBT folks do?
My dog does not judge me. My dog doesn’t care about with whom I live or marry. As long as his needs are met (and exceeded, in our case) then life is good. According to the 2013-2014 APPA National Pet Owners Survey, 68 percent of U.S. households own a pet, which equates to 82.5 million homes. There are lesbians living in those homes, sharing their lives with a pet. If you are reading this, you just might be one of them. Pets don’t care about our sexuality.
After publishing my blog post for the entire world to see, I held my breath and waited for some expected hateful comments to roll in. And then Ada’s email hit my inbox.
"Hi. I just read your post about coming out and your dog's other mother. Just wanted to say that I go through what you did and was very happy to read your post. Being involved in the pet world in India - having three animals -my dogs are always seen as mine and my partner is seen as a friend who is a caretaker sometimes - vice versa for the cat. Appreciate your coming out - gives strength to others like me- though I cannot dream of coming out here. Best, Ada."
She cannot dream of coming out there. I cannot even begin to fathom the cultural stigma, shunning, and harm that can come to Ada and her significant other if someone in India were to find out who she really is; you know, a human being.
I wonder how many folks who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender have a fear of being who they are, and they take extra comfort in knowing their pets are nonjudgmental.
I wonder how many Ada's are reading this and thinking, "I wish I could finally tell my ________ (co-workers, friends, family) that I am gay," but they realize how much they have to lose for simply being who they are.
But wait, there’s more. In 2010, I read about the BlogPaws pet blogging conference, the first conference of its kind: pets welcome, open to the general public, and for those interested in making blogging a full- or part-time career. I walked around the conference telling everyone whom I introduced to my family member, Darlene, that she was my sister. And I felt like such a fraud. Here I was, finally embracing my dreams, taking a major leap forward. Hell, I was the girl who went back to college full time as an adult, supported by my family member, taking strides and moving forward. Yet here I was introducing Darlene as my sister: ack.
I’ve met so many amazing people in my journey as a pet blogger/writer and being immersed in a career in the pet industry. Without the love, support, and encouragement of my wife, I can honestly say I do not know where I’d be. And I know I am not alone in feeling this way. Others have the love and support of a spouse and so do I. I don’t like labels and they really do belong on soup cans. So we are just a married couple, truly more in love with each passing year than I ever could have imagined. She is my dream come true and kitschy as it sounds, she completes me.
Many reading this are probably considered alternative by someone, somewhere, and that is to be embraced. Alternative living is the new norm. I’ve colored outside the lines for as long as I can remember. I certainly don’t plan to change. And my dog loves me just the way I am.