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In this chapter, we problematise the simplistic assumption that change in regard to gender is made more tenable or positive for humans as a result of the continuity that animal companionship offers. Instead, we argue that animals are not passive recipients of human change. Rather, we suggest that animals are closely attuned to human change. In the context of gender transition, continuity is rendered far more complex than might be suggested by cisgenderist narratives circulating about transgender and non-binary people. Liberal accounts of gender transition suggest that ‘the person doesn’t change’. Yet animal responses to gender transition suggest that the person does change, even if the nature of the human–animal relationship remains constant. By considering human accounts of how animals engage with change in their lives, this chapter suggests that animal companions are active agents in the context of human gender transition, speaking to their own awareness of, and contribution to, human–animal relationships.
In this chapter, we adopt an intersectional approach to explore accounts of activism and resistance as they shape animal and LBQTNB human lives. In the first section of the chapter, we take up some of the specificities of LGBQTNB animal activism by examining how trans women and drag queens have both engaged in activism in regard to animal lives. In the second section of the chapter, we turn to consider how histories of the Pride Flag contain within them recourse to claims about ‘nature’, and how this sits somewhat uneasily alongside more recent calls for the Pride Flag to be updated to better reflect the intersectionality of LGBQTNB communities. Continuing with our theme of nature, we then conclude the second section by exploring accounts of Radical Faeries, groups of primarily white gay men who make recourse to claims about nature to authenticate ideas about a gay spirituality and sense of community. The final analytic section in this chapter focuses on appropriation, initially by examining the appropriation of First Nation narratives in accounts of the death of an animal, and then by exploring how animal and LGBQTNB human rights are claimed in the face of resistance from the religious right.
In this chapter, we examine how women of diverse genders and sexualities speak about their relationships with animal companions. Drawing on an interview study, this chapter argues that for many women, loving relationships with animals highlight the tension between enmeshment and irreducibility. On the one hand, the women interviewed spoke about the genuine love and affection they experience with animal companions. This love was ‘more-than-human’, even if at the same time accounts of love were often framed in human terms. On the other hand, when speaking about the loss of an animal companion, the women interviewed acknowledged that the irreducibility of human and animal lives to one another meant that their grief was often not acknowledged. This chapter asks the question, then, of what it means to love an animal, knowing that humans are likely to outlive most domesticated animals and that the death of an animal is rarely seen as significant by other humans. How women of diverse genders and sexualities make sense of this question, this chapter argues, speaks to how being situated at the margins of intelligibility in terms of gender or sexuality affords women the space to think about the intelligibility or grievability of love for animal companions.
The final chapter of the book returns to the earlier themes of enmeshment and irreducibility, drawing on the issues explored throughout the book to consider what an animal-centric account of LGBQTNB politics might look like. We suggest that such an account must start by acknowledging species privilege if we are to make any progress in decentering human centrism. What, then, does this mean for gender and sexuality, given these are resolutely human categories of difference? This chapter argues that all bodies are marked by differences that are hierarchised: This applies between humans, between humans and animals, and between humans and the world around us. How we think about the ways in which bodies are marked thus provides us with a means to think about responsibility and accountability for practices of marking. In other words, one person’s practice of marking as a form of liberation (i.e., with regard to gender and sexuality) might be another person’s form of violence.
In this chapter, we bring together a queer menagerie of LGBQTNB human lives, specifically in the form of a focus on veganism and animal rights, beauty influencers and ‘cruelty-free’ makeup, and the kink practice known as ‘pup play’. What unites this seemingly disparate group of topics is a focus on the consumption of animals as food for humans or as fodder for human fantasies, and the ways in which a consumerist logic provides a point of intersection between human and animal lives that is arguably oriented to the former, rather than the latter. Obviously, veganism, ‘cruelty-free’ makeup, and kink are not unique to LGBQTNB people. However, each of these three topics takes unique forms or play out in specific ways in the context of LGBQTNB people’s lives. In focusing on the specific forms that these three topics take in the context of LGBQTNB people’s lives, we are mindful in this chapter that whilst some of the practices that LGBQTNB people may engage in through their relationships with animals may take specific forms, they nonetheless sit in (and serve to reinforce) broader social contexts wherein anthropocentrism serves to centre human standpoints.
In this introductory chapter, we establish a theoretical framework for the book, drawing on the concept of 'queer entanglements' to argue for what a 'queer menagerie' might look like in terms of research, theory, and activism in regard to the intersections of gender, sexuality, and species. The chapter also provides definitions of the populations we focus on and outlines our reasons for our specific areas of focus. We also discuss our positionality as authors. In elaborating our theoretical framework, we focus on histories and presents of animal and LGBQTNB human lives, and we map out some potential ways of understanding why it would seem that such histories and presents take unique forms in the lives of LGBQTNB people and the animals they live with. We finish the chapter by outlining our two key concepts, ‘enmeshment’ and ‘irreducibility’, that help us to understand and represent the work of curating a queer menagerie. This introductory chapter concludes by providing an overview of the chapters included in this book.
In this chapter, we explore how LGBQTNB people are affected by intersections of human- and animal-directed violence. We start by outlining how research in the field of human–human domestic violence has long recognised the relationship between such violence and human–animal cruelty in the domestic sphere but argue that rarely, however, has research on ‘the link’ focused on LGBQTNB people. From the international survey and interview data considered in this chapter, what is evident is that many LGBQTNB people see animal companions as uniquely able to recognise and honour human diversity. As a result, the threat of animal cruelty strikes a particular chord for human LGBTQNB victims of domestic violence: It speaks to the very point of identification that produces a sense of being uniquely recognised and honoured. As we have argued elsewhere, the idea of ‘rescuing’ animals from dire situations is always paired with the potential that animal companions will help to rescue humans from their own dire situations. In a broader context of discrimination, the recognition and honour seemingly accorded by animals offer lifelines to many. Yet, in the context of violent human–human relationships, the lives of humans and animals are at risk. How the survey and interview participants account for this enmeshment of risk and rescue thus sits at the very heart of this chapter.
Queer Entanglements provides the first comprehensive account of the intersections of lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, trans, and non-binary people's lives with the lives of animals. Exploring diverse topics such as domestic violence, grief following the loss of an animal, veganism, cruelty-free makeup products, Pride events, and community activism, the book offers a theoretical and empirical basis for understanding the contexts that bring together human and animal lives. By using real-world examples, it provides a lively and engaging view of what it means to think about the connections between animal and human lives, even when human experiences operate at the expense of animal wellbeing. This critical, intersectional, and interdisciplinary perspective on human-animal relations will be of interest to scholars and students in human-animal studies, psychology, sociology, social work, and cultural and gender studies.