A version of this post was previously published on the writer’s website, The World of Hina, According to Hina.
Earlier this month, I marched in Capital Pride, an annual LGBT pride event held each year in Washington D.C. This was my third year actually participating in the parade. Since 2009, I have been on the sidelines handing out literature on veganism. Over the four years that I’ve been involved with the Capital Pride parade, I’ve dressed up (some years more extreme than others) and just generally had a good time while trying to show everyone that veganism and animal rights are fun — and that vegans are all about gay pride as well.
Sometimes, I’ll talk with a friend and mention my involvement with Capital Pride. More often than not, I can see the questions forming in that person’s mind. “Wait, is she…?”
The thing is, it’s not my intention at all to give people the wrong impression, or to act coy. It’s just it seems ludicrous to me that not all people would be treated equally, based solely upon whom they like. One day, everyone will realize that being “anti-gay” is a ridiculous notion but until then, I’m just another face, another voice to show my support. I’m straight. But, just like Hillary Clinton once said in a speech, “Women’s rights are human rights.” Likewise, I believe it’s true that “Gay rights are human rights.”
The way I like to see it, I’m just being true to myself. I’m not intentionally leading anyone on. I’m a vegan — and to me, veganism extends way beyond a mere diet — so I live my life compassionately. And that means having respect for all life. Naturally, that encompasses not only all non-human animals, but also all people as well. To think otherwise would make me a hypocrite.
Another reason, I’ve realized, that I try to be so active with veganism and gay pride and everything in between is that I’m a minority. I’m a minority in that I’m Muslim and also that I’m South Asian.
As a runner, it’s a standing joke between me and my parents about the number of South Asians I see at races. Answer: very, very few. I could count them on one hand. And at a gay pride event? Forget it! That’s why I have to represent, to show that there are those of us who are progressive, that we’re fun, and that we’re just like you. Any little thing that I can do to help eradicate Islamophobia is a step in the right direction to worldwide compassion.
Hina Ayub is a thirty-something professional working in the field of intellectual property. She’s also a Muslim, a vegan, a marathoner, and a triathlete who endeavors to make all parts of life work in harmony with each other.