Invisible Voices

a voice for the voiceless

Unprovoked violent attack on gay animal rights activist, Nathan Runkle

I was shocked and saddened to read about the attack on Nathan Runkle, founder of Mercy for Animals, when reading pattrice’s blog, SuperWeed, this afternoon.

From the press release that pattrice linked in:

Dayton, OH – Nathan Runkle, the 24-year old openly gay founder and Executive Director of the national animal advocacy organization, Mercy For Animals, was brutally assaulted on Saturday morning in an apparent hate crime. Runkle is a nationally recognized leader in the animal protection movement, who was recently named one of the world’s “25 Most Fascinating Vegetarians” by VegNews Magazine. The assault, which occurred at Masque, a gay night club in Dayton, Ohio, was completely unprovoked.

I don’t know Nathan personally, other than having heard him speak at various AR conferences, and probably having the quick kind of talks you have when you stop by someone’s table. My impressions were always of gentleness and kindness, backed by that core of strength innate to people who follow their conscience as strongly and unwaveringly as Nathan has. It is amazing to think that he started Mercy for Animals when he was in high school, but that’s exactly what he did. 9 years later and he is still filled with energy and conviction.

And his reaction to this attack shows that strength as well. What does Nathan say, how should we react?

The press release says that Nathan wants sexual orientation included in Ohio’s hate crimes legislation. So, one thing that those of us who know and love — or just know of and respect — Nathan can do is join the effort to make that happen.

pattrice says further:

So, if you’re somebody who cares about or works on LGBTQ issues but has not (yet) integrated the animals into your analysis of oppression, let this attack on a gay man who has dedicated himself to animal rights motivate you to educate yourself about the connections. And, if you’re a straight animal liberationist or veg*n advocate who hasn’t thought deeply about your heterosexual privilege and what obligations you might have to divest yourself of that, let this near-deadly attack on a gay animal advocate remind you (if Proposition 8 and Obama’s selection of a homophobic preacher to speak at his inauguration did not) that homophobia is still alive and dangerous.

In both instances: Educate yourself about the intersections and then figure out how you might integrate what you learn into your activism and your daily life. Those of us who are already hip to that particular intersection ought to realize that there’s always more for us to learn too. Finally, all of us can be inspired by Nathan’s relentless activism and take up the charge to do just a little bit more while he’s recovering from this terrible trauma.

Stephanie wrote about it too, with some additional links.

Let’s see what we can do to aid in the fight in Ohio to have sexual orientation included in hate crimes legislation.

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4 responses to “Unprovoked violent attack on gay animal rights activist, Nathan Runkle

  1. rich January 4, 2009 at 11:56 am

    Thanks for posting this, like you I do not know Nathan personally but only via quick talks at conferences. But that does not matter, what does matter is that a young man was attacked for his sexual orientation. This is sad and shocking and something we should not allow to happen.
    Straight/Gay/Bi or whatever you consider yourself we need to all look at the issues and fight for equality for all. Doing some searches I could not find his story posted on any site that was not AR related. The word needs to get out to the gay activists community as well as the mainstream news.

  2. Deb January 5, 2009 at 11:51 pm

    That’s a good point about the word needing to get out. I don’t know how to make that happen, but hopefully word IS getting out. I’ve been getting a lot of hits for people looking for info on Nathan’s situation.

  3. Kalen January 22, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    Always is a sad matter when anyone is attacked like this. Mercy for Animals is a great organization and hope Runkle has a speedy recovery.

  4. Deb January 25, 2009 at 7:17 pm

    Kalen, I agree. I haven’t heard any updates, have you? I hope he’s doing well..

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