Queer Family Values – Moving
Do you make major life decisions focused on the needs of your pets?
Do you make major life decisions focused on the needs of your pets? There is a new study that shows “79 percent of pet-owning homebuyers who closed on a property this year said they would pass up an otherwise perfect home if it didn't meet the needs of their pets, according to a Realtor.com survey. Obviously, I have no proof about this, but I think based on the people I know - LGBTQ people would likely skew that percentage even higher because of how important pets are in our lives. What do you think?
I felt particularly connected to this new study from Realitor.com because my family is in the midst of a tremendous change. To meet the health needs of our two big dogs my partner and I are selling our house in Brooklyn and relocating to Portland Oregon with our three cats and our three dogs. We’re doing this to move to an area of the country with fewer thunderstorms because even highly medicated my middle pup-child can’t handle them emotionally anymore, and my youngest dog, who is a giant weighing in at 100 pounds needs major surgery on both of her knees. We live in a 1920s townhouse and after consulting with surgeons and our family veterinarian the best thing would be for us to be living in a single floor house, which are much more prevalent on the west coast
I believe that when you bring an animal into your family, you have made a commitment to the life of that animal, and so their needs need in your life. I’ve written before about my thoughts on the link between queer rights and animal rights- this feels like another one of those places where there should be /is an overlap. A recurring theme here in this column is the unique relationships we as LGBTQ people have building family with our pets – many of us have experienced rejection or removed ourselves from relationships with our toxic families of origin. Our companion animals truly become our children, our closest friends and in many instances some of our most stable relationships.
Because my puppy needs surgery so soon my partner and I put this large move in motion very quickly. Straight people (with the exception of a couple dog show friends/ veterinary staff) seem to think we are completely nuts. Queer folks, on the other hand, seem to have a greater appreciation for why we would reconfigure our life in this way. Meanwhile, straight acquaintances have said or implied that our girls are…. just dogs. And that redesigning our life around them is excessive. NO. NO. NO. Our dogs are our kids. If your child couldn’t get to the bedrooms in your house would you move? I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t – and that’s very much the reality of the life my partner and I are living now (we’re currently sleeping downstairs on an air mattress since our youngest can’t get upstairs to our bedrooms anymore). Now I’m sure there are LGBTQ people who do or would think that making these kinds of big family decisions around the needs of our dogs is excessive, but I’ve found LGBTQ people seem to be much more appreciative or accepting of it.
The movers come to our house later this week, and then next weekend my partner and I load our dogs and cats into our SUV and start driving west! By the time I write next month’s column we will be situated in Portland! It’s going to be quite an adventure moving our (not so) little queer family cross-country – perhaps I’ll have stories to share next month! In the meantime, have you ever made major life decisions focused on the needs of your pets? Do you think that this is a queer family value?
Sassafras Lowrey is a straight-edge queer punk who grew up to become the 2013 winner of the Lambda Literary Emerging Writer Award. Sassafras’ books—Lost Boi, A Little Queermas Carol, Roving Pack, Kicked Out and Leather Ever After—have been honored by organizations ranging from the National Leather Association to the American Library Association. Sassafras lives and writes in Brooklyn (soon to be Portland, Oregon!) with hir partner, and their menagerie of dogs and cats. Learn more at www.SassafrasLowrey.com