My #ComingOutDay: “I Respect You, But I Will Not Use Your Pronouns”
My #ComingOutDay Travelers: I have some news for ...
I lay in a pool of mud, on my back, sinking into the ground. The pool is half dirt, half quicksand. I slightly start to feel the panic prickle over my body, because I can feel myself slowly being pulled lower. The real panic hits me, though, when I look around.
There are dead babies all around me. Their little noses are sticking up from the quicksand, and they’re drowning. All I can see around me is mud and limbs. I see feet, legs, eyes… and more noses. There are too many. And I’m stuck too, I can’t save anyone. I can’t save the baby pigs.
I woke up in a flash, sweating. I couldn’t sort out reality from my dreams.
I had it before the panic attack. As a quick recap, the panic attack went a little like this:
About a week ago, I was excited, and thankful, to work a bike tour. I was working a catering company owned and ran by two humans that I love, deeply. They put me on the vegan/vegetarian table for the week. One morning, around 5:00 A.M., we were preparing breakfast. The smell of burning pig flesh (a.k.a. “bacon”) filled the kitchen and the small room that we were working in.
I tried to block out the sadness and panic that I was starting to feel for these dead animals being cooked, but I couldn’t. I started only breathing in through my mouth, trying to think different thoughts. It didn’t work. Before I knew it, I was watching a movie in my head of baby pigs being beaten and killed. I watched older pigs suffering in pens, with no food or water. I heard the screams of the souls being electrocuted onto slaughter trucks, trying desperately to turn around. I felt the panic of not being able to save them all.
If you’ve had a panic attack before, you know what I’m talking about. If not, it feels almost impossible to breathe, and you often feel completely helpless. I honestly had never felt so far from control over my emotions, body, and thoughts until that moment.
I am not mad at my friends who continue to eat flesh, or who choose to pay humans to kill non-human animals for food. I’m not even mad at the friends and family who joke with me about the subject. I am mad at the system. And more importantly, I’m frustrated with the lack of compassion that we choose to show each other, in society, as a whole. I’m frustrated when we choose ignorance over connection. I’m frustrated that I can’t save everyone.
This is the cry of the activist, asking you to listen when we speak. Asking you to watch when we present. Asking you to engage – and feel—when we ask for your compassion. Living against the social norm isn’t easy, and it isn’t always fun. But it’s worth it.
We need you to listen to our cry, and more importantly, to their cries. Because my dream was not just a dream, it was real. And it is real. It’s happening, now, in real time. And we’re crying out to you for change.
(Check out this video to step into my thoughts.)
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