Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2018-04-18
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



Animal-rights activist on inspiring compassion
by Sydney Boles

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Nathan Runkle is the founder and executive director of Mercy for Animals, a nonprofit he founded at the age of 15 to prevent cruelty to animals and promote compassionate food choices and policies.

He is the author of the compelling new book, Mercy for Animals, and he spoke with Windy City Times about how being a gay man informed his animal rights advocacy.

Windy City Times: Can you explain your organization's mission for our readers?

Nathan Runkle: I founded Mercy for Animals when I was 15 years old, in 1999. We work in four program areas: undercover investigations ( sending people into factory farms and slaughterhouses to document with hidden cameras the daily abuse that animals face ), pushing for stronger state and federal laws to protect farm animals, corporate outreach ( working to push the largest food industry players away from the worst factory farm practices ) and consumer education.

WCT: When I was 15, it wouldn't even occur to me that I could found a nonprofit. How did you get the initiative and the knowledge to do something like that?

NR: I definitely fumbled through the early years. I had no idea what I was doing. I really was driven by passion and dedication to helping animals. The knowledge of how to run and build an organization came along the way.

WCT: You've talked before about how being an animal-rights activist and being gay are connected for you. Can you talk about that a bit?

NR: I was born and raised on a small farm in Ohio. Growing up in this conservative pocket of the country, I was bullied and harassed and called a faggot since I was a child, before I even knew my own sexuality.

That experience helped sensitize me to the plight of animals, who are so often victims of violence and oppression at the hands of humans. I can relate to animals who are judged for what they are, not who they are.

In our country, we have placed arbitrary values on certain animals that we consider to be companions, like dogs and cats, and then other animals that we have labelled food, like cows and pigs. We consider these animals to be resources that we can exploit at our own whim. But there's nothing different about these animals in terms of their ability to feel love and pain and joy and sorrow.

I think that's why there are a lot of members of the LGBT community who are vegan and animal advocates, because they understand that what leads to the oppression of one group is the notion of "othering" someone and deciding that their interests don't matter as much as the individuals that are in power. Although animals are different from us, they are our equals in every way that matters. That's at the heart of this notion that animal rights is a social justice movement.

WCT: Was there a moment that solidified your activism for you?

NR: I was the victim of a hate crime back in 2009. I was assaulted [and] thrown to the ground; my face was fractured in seven places. The perpetrator was never caught. I was already a vegan animal activist at this point, but it certainly further sensitized me to victims of violence and trauma, including animals. Pain is pain, whether the victim is a cow or a pig or a child.

WCT: How did you decide to write a book? What was the writing process like?

NR: I wrote the book because I wanted to inspire people to take action to help animals. I wanted to share my personal story of going from a would-be fifth-generation farmer to founding an international animal protection organization, but also the brave individuals who risk their safety to go undercover at factory farms.

The writing process was very personal. There are stories that I share in the book that I hadn't even shared with my therapist. It was a cathartic and emotionally challenging experience, but ultimately it was an inspiring experience that really filled me with hope for the future.

WCT: What are steps that people can take, particularly someone who might feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the problem, to be animals advocates in their own lives?

NR: The best thing that each individual can do is move towards a plant-based diet. If you're overwhelmed by the prospect of doing that overnight, you can lean into it. Start by participating in Meatless Mondays, for instance. If everyone in America went meatless just one day a week, we would spare over a billion animals from unconscionable suffering on factory farms.

Oftentimes, people find that Meatless Mondays is a joyful and healthy experience, and it becomes easy to eliminate meat a little bit more each week. But it's important for people who are trying to change their diet celebrate progress, not perfection.

For individuals who want to become advocates, I talk in the book about practical things that everyone can do, from e-activism to finding your own unique voice as an advocate. Our diversity is our strength as a movement.

WCT: Where can readers go if they're interested in learning more or joining the movement?

NR: They can pick up the book, but they can also visit . People [who] are interested in attending events or becoming active with the organization can sign up there.

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

BOOKS Nina Packenbush talks 'Girls Like Me' 2018-04-18 - Nina Packebush's first novel, Girls Like Me, breaks new ground with the story of a pregnant queer teenager, Banjo. Recently named as a ...

Gay News

BOOKS In 'Red As Blue,' Ji Strangeway creates universe of possibilities 2018-04-18 - Ji Strangeway describes the 1980s in Denver as the "dark ages," explaining that she grew up surrounded by evangelical-sponsored billboards filled with messages ...

Gay News

Five Worth Finding, books, Phluid Project, restaurants 2018-04-11 - —Given Up for You: In this honest memoir from University of Wisconsin Press, Erin O. White shares her hunger for love—both religious and ...

Gay News

MOMBIAN Two new books show ways to include LGBTQ characters 2018-04-04 - Two new books—one for middle grades and one for young adults—show two different ways of incorporating LGBTQ characters and themes into a story. ...

Gay News

BOOKS Shears' genius, musician on memoir 'Boys Keep Swinging' 2018-04-04 - These days, Jake Shears is busier than ever. In addition to starring as Charlie Price in Kinky Boots on Broadway, he has ...

Gay News

Borich, Mulderig at The Seminary on April 23 2018-03-28 - On Monday, April 23, at 6 p.m., Barrie Jean Borich and Jeremy Mulderig will read from and discuss their latest books, Apocalypse, Darling ...

Gay News

Women and Children Books plans Indie Bookstore Day April 28 and April events 2018-03-28 - Friday, March 30 at 7 p.m. Together We Rise Author Panel Celebrate the culmination of Women's History Month on a powerful note! ...

Gay News

BOOKS Timely book chronicles UPRISING actions 2018-03-28 - Activism and performance art go hand in hand, especially during times of political unrest. This is as true today as it was during ...

Gay News

Author discusses historical novel at Center event 2018-03-27 - As part of Women's History Month, award-winning author and scholar Dr. LaShonda Barnett hosted a book reading at Center on Halsted March 23. ...

Gay News

BOOKS With 'The List,' Amy Siskind documents democracy's downfall 2018-03-20 - Like so many others, Amy Siskind was shocked by 2016's presidential outcome, and felt that President Trump's election thrust U.S. democracy into great ...


Copyright © 2018 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.








About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.