When in doubt, pet the dog.. 2016 has been a hard year for animal-loving queers.

When in doubt, pet the dog.. 2016 has been a hard year for animal-loving queers.

The Pulse shooting is still fresh and raw for so many of us. The fatal fire at the Oakland Ghost Ship has also hit our LGBTQ community hard. I came of age as a young queer in indie/underground art spaces like that with my little (and now very elderly dog). And Trump has become the president elect, putting in place a cabinet that is unanimously anti-LGBTQ.

He’s poised to be the first sitting president in 150 years to not have a pet—though as I was sitting down to write this, rumors surfaced that he’s getting a goldendoodle named Patton (named for the WWII General). Well, maybe his son is, or none of them are. Rumors, rumors, rumors.

2016 also hasn’t been a great year for animals. The stay on the Montreal Pitbull ban I wrote about here in my October column has been overturned by an appeals court and is now in effect. To return to Trump for a moment: our anti-LGBTQ president is also very anti-animal, to the point that the Human Society (who normally don’t weigh in on presidential candidates)  called Trump “a threat to animals everywhere.”

Things are about to get real rocky for queer folks in this country, and while this new America is very scary, I am confident that together, collectively and in solidarity with other marginalized communities, we will live through this. Our dogs, our cats, our iguanas, our horses and our parakeets are going to be with us in these trying times.

They are our steadfast companions and confidants, our furry children, and they are scientifically proven to be good for us! Let’s just name it: the way our world is shaping up, we need all the love and loyalty we can get and animals are great for that! We’re going to need our pets more than ever!

I know that since the election I have been especially grateful for my furry family—the comfort they bring to me, and the way that even on very dark days they bring light and fun and joy into my world is invaluable. They don’t understand the political landscape that we are all coming to terms with, or hate crimes, or mass tragedy.

They only understand that they love us, and that we love them and that we are very upset and stressed out. Right now, as scary as the world is, I think it’s important that we find joy and fun, and magic however we can and whenever we can—even if it’s just a simple moment of playing with your cat or taking your dog for a walk. In this moment I think we have to focus on those little things that bring us joy—and at the top of that list for me has to be the animals I share my home with.

Pets in general, and dogs in particular, make us physically and mentally healthier people. The simple act of petting a dog can reduce your heart rate blood pressure—something most of us could probably benefit from right now.

Some studies have even shown that people with dogs might have lower cholesterol, be more likely to survive a heart attack, and can even help you sleep better at night. People who share their homes with dogs are less likely to experience symptoms of depression compared to people who don’t have pets, according to some new studies.

I know that as a queer author I’m going to need my pets at my side while I continue living and writing through the next four years. I imagine that’s true for many of you too. How are your pets helping you through this trying time?