Dog and catNo Homophobes allowed!

If you are anything like me, travelling without your pets can be anxiety-provoking, especially around making sure you find the right sitter to stay with them. Finding the right sitter to stay in our house with our menagerie, especially if it’s a vacation we aren’t taking the dogs on, is made additionally stressful by our family being queer. Not only do we first and foremost need to find someone who can keep our routines and handle the special needs of our crew, but we also have to find someone who is comfortable staying in a queer house!

When I say this to straight people sometimes they look at me funny—after all, it’s just an apartment, what could be so gay about it? Of course, our house itself isn’t gay but lots of the things in it are! In the past when we have had straight pet sitters, my partner and I have not only spent a lot of time preparing our pets for staying with a sitter but also straightening our house—and I don’t mean vacuuming and putting out fresh towels. Having a straight sitter leaves me feeling like I need to censor my bookshelves (and our house is full of them) making sure that nothing too explicit is out on display; take down radical queer art from my office walls; think about what pictures and magnets from queer conferences and gatherings are displayed on the refrigerator; and, of course, lock up the sex toys!

2 black catsEven though on some level I know it’s silly, I have in the past gotten anxious about booking straight pet sitters in our home. Sure, I have some queer separatist tendencies, but more than that I’ve worried that I didn’t put something super pornographic or radically queer away and that I might scare the sitter! Generally, I’m a pretty in-your-face, out everywhere kinda queer, but I do worry about making the person who is responsible for the care of my babies uncomfortable, not from a place of internalized homophobia where I’m ashamed of myself, but because I have nightmares that they might be a homophobe who would punish my pets! I live in a major city that is known for being very gay friendly but rational or not, I still worry.

What has ended up being best for me is to keep our pet sitters in the “family” and go out of my way to hire other queers to stay with our kids. I’m pretty neurotic in general when prepping to travel and have multi-page guides for the care and feeding of our pets that go so far as to not only list emergency contact info but also lists of favourite toys, how the cats like their wet food mixed up etc., etc., etc. Basically, our pet sitter is a saint not because of how maintenance our pets are, but because he puts up with me!

Writing about this topic is really timely for me this week because I’m prepping to leave my furry family with our trusted pet sitter while I’m away on a book tour for the next two weeks! Truth be told, the dogs and the cats do much better with their sitter than I do, being away from them but I have found it helps me to know that I have someone staying with them who is also queer and who won’t be uncomfortable with queer books out in the living room or my gender nonconformist Chihuahua who wears pink sweaters and has a rhinestone collar! I’ve had people at the dog park make homophobic comments about him before (seriously who verbally gay bashes a ten-pound dog!?). The last thing I want is for him to experience puppy homophobia at home while his parents are away!

How about you? Do you like to find your pet sitters in the community? How do you manage your own anxieties about travelling without your furry kiddos?