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PETA Leader Dan Mathews On Dating Meat Eaters, Gay Rights & His 'Vegan Gay Marriage' in Las Vegas

Pamela Anderson Dan Mathews Jack Ryan Chrissie Hynde
Photo by Slobodan Randjelovic

'I’ve never dated anyone because they were vegetarian, just like I’m gay but don’t only go to gay bars.'


Dan Mathews, senior vice president of People for Ethical Treatment of Animals, and his longtime partner Jack Ryan (they met seven years ago), were legally wed last Thanksgiving under the famed "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign on Las Vegas Boulevard. They'd been waiting to wed in Nevada, Mathew's favorite city, to have a "tacky" wedding in the "marriage capital of the world." So when Las Vegas issued its first same-sex marriage license on October 9, 2014 -- after a state law banning such unions was declared unconstitutional by a federal court -- they jumped at the chance. The celebration included Pamela Anderson as maid of honor and the Pretenders' Chrissie Hynde was the "best man." In a new Q&A with the Barbi Twins in Origin, "the Conscious Culture Magazine," Mathews discusses gay rights, dating meat eaters, and why he chose Las Vegas for his nuptials.

On dating meat eaters:

"I've never dated anyone because they were vegetarian, just like I'm gay but don't only go to gay bars. I hang out with people because they are fun, smart, and kind, and if they happen to be veg I'm thrilled. Jack wasn't veg when we met, but he never ate meat in front of me and I never pressured him. In less than a year, he stopped eating meat and just mentioned it to me casually."

On how to get along with those who share different beliefs:

"Most people, especially activists, recognize their differences with others rather than what they have in common and that leads to frustration more than persuasion. Even when I meet a hunter, rather than engage in a useless argument about that, I'll find an animal issue they support and talk about that first to set a friendlier playing field. I've seen much better results like this, and from the unlikeliest people."

On how being gay has shaped his activism:

"As someone who was gay bashed as a kid, I learned firsthand how a lot of people only feel good about themselves when they sense that someone or something is on a lower rung than they are. This inferiority complex drives racism and sexism as well as outdates attitudes about animals... "Attitudes toward gays have shifted much like they have for animals. People have a hard time relating to those who are different and often strike out against them in ignorance. But society is really starting to wise up at last as more enlightened generations emerge."

On his own personal 'controversial animal rights campaign' tagline:

"I've always thought it would be fun to have a vegan campaign aimed at gays called "Don't Be a Dairy Queen."

On his vegan Vegas wedding:

"We got hitched on Thanksgiving. It was a thrill to turn this traditional family holiday around with a gay wedding and a vegan Thanksgiving reception afterward... Even after the law was changed, some chapels still refused gays, so we opted to tie the knot right in the middle of the street under the "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign. And with Chrissie Hynde as our best man and Pamela Anderson the maid of honor, it was a surreal dream come true!

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