For Many Gays And Lesbians, Our Pets Are Our Children
John Bartlett and friends
This is such a great story. So many of us are so busy making up for lost time, figuring out who we are, that we forget to find ourselves by serving others. In this case, fashion designer John Bartlett chooses to serve our 3 legged friends... well, at least in one instance with his dog Tiny Tim.
Nine years ago, on my 40th birthday, I rescued a homeless dog named Tiny Tim, who ended up rescuing me right back. Tiny Tim was a voracious and scrappy German Shepherd/Labrador/Pit Bull mix who was struck by a car on Christmas Eve, resulting in the amputation of his front leg. When I met him at the North Shore Animal League four months after his operation, it was love at first hairy sight.
As a gay man with no inclination for children, I had always been drawn to dogs, and as a 40-year-old single man (at the time), I wanted to do something with impact, move out of my comfort zone, and be responsible for another creature besides myself for once. Adopting a homeless pet was the solution for me, and almost instantly upon meeting Tiny Tim, my life began to take shape for the first time. It gave me a sense of being needed, a knowledge that something outside myself depended on me solely for its happiness and basic survival. In many ways it was my first step into adulthood.
My world opened up in ways I could never have imagined once Tiny Tim was at my side. People whom I had never spoken to came up to me to ask about Tim and his missing front leg. In fact, I had passed many of these same people countless times on the street without even a "hello." Living in a "gayborhood" like Chelsea and the West Village, Tiny Tim (and I) met many gay and lesbian dog owners, particularly rescue-dog owners, and I was welcomed to a wonderful network of information and support from other people who shared the honor of raising these deserving creatures. The dog park became my social circle, and nine years later, many of these same dog owners are my closest friends.
My partner and I are doing our part. We have 2 rescue dogs and 1 rescue cat. We regularly contribute to The Humane Society. We will never have children but we will always have our babies!