Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2022-06-08
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Gay animal-rights activist takes on corporations
by Gretchen Rachel Blickensderfer
2014-01-22

This article shared 12802 times since Wed Jan 22, 2014
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Growing up in the small Ohio farming community of St. Paris, Nathan Runkle could have been considered a minority of one. He is a gay vegetarian who loves all animals, not just domesticated pets. But his extended family, and most of the community, consisted of hunters, farmers, trappers and fishermen. How animals were treated and killed on their way to the dinner plate was never given a second thought.

Runkle said that rabbits had their heads ripped off while they were still alive. As many as seven hens were kept in cages no larger than the drawer of a file cabinet. Coated in their own feces, they were starved until they began an egg-laying cycle, simply died or were discarded in trash cans. Cows and their calves were beaten in the face with metal pipes or stabbed with pitchforks. Pregnant pigs were packed so tightly into locked crates that they could not move. Their young were tossed around like footballs—all cost-effective and expedient practices for the factory farms around Runkle's home.

From a young age, Runkle's advocacy for animals were at the core of his being. "I had a natural connection with them," he said. "I was heartbroken watching animals being mistreated and I couldn't understand why we would have a passion for animals like dogs and cats but treat other animals with such disregard and cruelty."

In 1995—at the age of 11—Runkle saw an evening news story about a fur protest occurring at the local mall. It was then that he heard the term "animal rights activist" for the first time. "I went to the library and got every book I could find on the topic," Runkle said. "I just dove headfirst into being an animal advocate. I would circulate petitions at school, or give talks on abuse of animals on factory farms. I never hesitated to take action."

When Runkle was 15, his sister's high school hosted an agricultural class. The teacher, a pig farmer, had tried to kill some piglets to use as a dissection project. When he arrived at the school, one of the piglets was still alive. A student took the piglet by her hind legs and slammed her headfirst into the ground in an attempt to kill her.

Her skull was fractured and she was bleeding out of the mouth, but the piglet still didn't die. A couple of other students took the piglet to a vets' office to have her euthanized. Animal cruelty charges were filed against the student and the teacher but the pig-farming community rallied behind the teacher in support. The first day of the trial, the animal-cruelty charges were dismissed. "In the state of Ohio, like pretty much every other state, if something is considered standard agricultural practice, no matter how cruel or inhumane, it is exempt from cruelty prosecution," Runkle explained. "Slamming baby piglets head first against the ground is considered a standard practice and so an acceptable way of killing these animals."

The case galvanized Runkle. "There needed to be an organization who would advocate on behalf of farm animals," he said. "The community and the law wasn't protecting them so someone had to step up."

Runkle was on a path that lead to his founding of Mercy for Animals, a national organization that has brought about legislative and policy change in the treatment of farm animals and has taken the fight to billion-dollar organizations like Amazon, Butterball, Walmart and Kraft Foods.

It was a decision that brought Runkle into conflict with his hometown. He was already facing criticism for his advocacy when, at 18, Runkle came out as gay. "It was not the most welcome and supportive environment," he remembered. "But any push back I received was nothing compared to what the animals were being subjected to."

Looking back, Runkle believes that being gay subconsciously made him relate to the animals he was fighting for."These animals were being punished by society just because they were born on a factory farm," he said. "They were treated like the scum of the earth, because that's how society marked them. I know what that feels like."

In 2002, Runkle scored his first major victory. Ohio was the largest egg producing state in the nation. Runkle went into farms and documented horrific abuses of the chickens there, including force-molting—the practice of starving the bird for weeks to shock their bodies into an egg-laying cycle. His first investigation caught the attention of a local news outlet. "They ran a damning story of the Ohio egg industry and the result was that the Giant Eagle grocery chain pledged to stop buying eggs from producers who force-molted their egg-laying hens." Runkle said. "The practice is quickly becoming a thing of the past."

Since then, Runkle has worked ceaselessly on behalf of the 9 billion animals raised and killed under what he said are appalling conditions every year in the United States. "It can be very depressing," Runkle admitted. "But the flip side happens when we reduce the amount of meat that the nation is consuming by even 1 or 2 percent. That impacts hundreds of millions of animals. The payoff is huge."

That payoff has often meant going head to head with corporate giants like Walmart. But Runkle welcomes the fight. "We feel that it is their moral and ethical obligation to ensure that the products that they sell are not coming from animals that were tortured," he said.

While many companies are slowly going with a changing tide in public opinion that has given rise to vegetarian menu options in restaurants and even vegan fast-food outlets, Runkle said that Walmart has resisted. "They are driven by the bottom line," he said. "They are just buying time. But we will keep the pressure up."

Despite other uphill battles particularly against the agriculture lobby in the push for federal anti-cruelty legislation, Runkle remains optimistic. He believes that, much like LGBT equality, the landscape is changing in his favor. "The Internet has helped pull back the curtain on the abuse of these animals on factory farms and it's moving towards a tipping point," he said. "When we talk to younger people, they think it is common sense that we shouldn't be abusing animals like this. I think that trend is only going to continue."

For more information, go to www.mercyforanimals.org .


This article shared 12802 times since Wed Jan 22, 2014
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

NATIONAL Lambda Legal, N.J. politicians, funding, monkeypox
2022-07-03
Lambda Legal issued a statement about the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of a former football coach for a high school in western Washington who lost his job after praying on the 50-yard-line after games. ...


Gay News

Mental-health specialist Dani LaPlant talks feelings, LGBTQ+ rights, allies and more
2022-07-03
by Andrew Pirrotta - At a time when this country is seemingly more divided than ever, LGBTQ+ rights, and lives, are on the line. Whether it's states like Texas and Florida fighting to ban gender-affirming healthcare, or the Supreme Court ...


Gay News

Sen. Baldwin, colleagues applaud confirmation of Global AIDS Coordinator, push for global LGBTQI+ rights
2022-07-02
-- From a press release - WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen.Tammy Baldwin joined her colleagues in congratulating John Nkengasong on his recent confirmation as U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator. The lawmakers also urged Ambassador Nkengasong to ensure ...


Gay News

GLAAD responds to HHS announcement to combat monkeypox virus outbreak
2022-06-29
-- From a press release - (June 29, 2022) - GLAAD responded to the Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) just-announced strategy to mitigate the spread of monkeypox virus (MPV), which includes prioritizing vaccinations for ...


Gay News

Wisconsin governor challenges abortion ban
2022-06-29
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul have filed a lawsuit seeking to block the state's 173-year-old ban on abortions, asking a state court to declare the law unenforceable, ABC 7 Chicago reported. In ...


Gay News

CDC reminds people that National HIV Testing Day is June 27
2022-06-24
-- From a press release - June 27 is National HIV Testing Day (NHTD), a day to emphasize the importance of HIV testing and make sure everyone knows their status so they can take steps to improve their health, regardless of the ...


Gay News

HIV testing dropped sharply among key groups during first year of COVID-19 pandemic
2022-06-23
-- From a press release - New CDC data published ahead of National HIV Testing Day (Monday, June 27) show a sharp decrease in the number of CDC-funded HIV tests administered in health care and non-health-care settings (43% and 50%, respectively) from ...


Gay News

Gov. Pritzker signs bills expanding protection for survivors of sexual assault
2022-06-16
-- From a press release - CHICAGO —At Chicago's Rush University Medical Center, Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker signed two bills aimed at making medical and legal care for victims of sexual assault broader and more accessible. HB5441 amends Illinois Criminal Code to ...


Gay News

IML mentioned in CDPH monkeypox release
2022-06-16
On June 13, the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) stated that it continues to investigate reports of monkeypox cases in Chicago residents and is asking people to take proper precautions when in spaces or situations ...


Gay News

Biden's historic executive order strengthens protections for the 2M LGBT youth in U.S.
2022-06-16
-- From a press release - Today, President Biden signed an executive order that includes actions to protect LGBTQI+ youth from conversion therapy, expand LGBTQI+ access to comprehensive health care, support LGBTQI+ youth in schools, end ...


Gay News

100 HIV groups call on Congress to fund Biden's National PrEP Program
2022-06-16
-- From a press release - (New York City, NY) Wednesday, June 15, 2022—PrEP4All, Inc., along with 100 HIV organizations, are leading the push for Congress to fund a National Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) Program that would ...


Gay News

TPAN to host Closing Ceremony for Ride For Life Chicago June 19
2022-06-15
-- From a press release - Chicago, IL—TPAN will host the Closing Ceremony of the Ride For Life Chicago on Sunday, June 19 at Foster Beach from noon-5pm. Cyclists will complete their 200-, 100-, and 50-mile rides to converge at the beach ...


Gay News

Governor signs bills expanding access to HIV- and AIDS-related care and prevention
2022-06-14
-- From a press release - Chicago—Governor JB Pritzker signed HB4430 and HB5549 into law today, removing barriers to access for HIV and AIDS care and prevention. HB4430 allows pharmacists to dispense both pre- and post-exposure prophylaxis drugs (PrEP and PEP) without ...


Gay News

AMA chooses first openly gay president-elect
2022-06-14
Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, M.D., M.P.H, an anesthesiologist from Wisconsin, was voted president-elect of the American Medical Association (AMA) by physicians gathered at the Annual Meeting of the AMA House of Delegates. Following a year-long term as ...


Gay News

Lightfoot, CDPH announce expansion of citywide mental health network
2022-06-13
-- From a press release - CHICAGO — Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced today that the City of Chicago is awarding $3.1 million in new grants to expand City-funded outpatient mental health services across ...


 



Copyright © 2022 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.

 
 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.