Opinion: GayLifeLA’s Pup Contest Video Causes Pain for Pups


Matthew Mullin, pup ashtray kain
Above, left to right: Squeaker, Wolfy, Rush (LA Pup 2018) and Apollo (Alpha Beta 2018)

The video that GayLifeLA’s  reporter made is causing major problems for pup play in Los Angeles and could very possibly ruin Pup Pride. My trouble with it began when people and pups came forward and told me it was insensitive and mean. Some of them blamed me for it, and many of them cried after seeing it. It wasn’t until I stood in the other pup’s shoes that I began to see what they found so offensive.

I know it caused a lot of pain for them because I have devoted a lot of my time to defending them and giving them safe places to be themselves. I strive to make them feel good about themselves. It gives me a sense of community I never knew existed. these puppies are very passionate, but have learned to not trust that people will just understand. We had a pup outed as a pup to his family using the internet last year, and that was an awful situation. This video has been a really bad experience for all of us, and now the board for Los Angeles Puppy Pride will have to make serious decisions about allowing media into the contest.

Pup Ashtray Kain at the  West Coast Olympus Contest in San Diego, where he was named Mr. West Coast Olympus 2015. (Photo by Russ Boyd)

While it may not have originally offended me, it caused some serious damage to some of the pups he was joking about. He pissed off the judges by saying the first runner up should have won. And singling out Apollo and our winner Rush was a bad choice. These two have to work together all year. I was told by leaders in the community that while I created a safe space for the pups to be, I actually harmed them myself by just going with it when he started to interview us at the contest. It’s a momentary lapse in judgement that led to an overshadow of the whole experience.

I seriously regret it now, and if I’m not careful I may end up losing the whole thing, and this is a world I have worked very hard to create for them. Before Dan and I started doing Dog Pound, there was one puppy party in town only once a year. The pups were mostly underground, and if we aren’t careful, they may end up there again. If people are curious about pups, they need to learn that it isn’t something to take so lightly. It might seem silly or ‘degenerate’ as Ben put it, but it’s not the way that we see it, and it’s sad that they don’t understand that.

Maybe it seems cute or entertaining to make fun of it, but the pups do not find it funny because they identify as pup. You don’t think that someone would be able to pull that off that kind of video with the transgender community, right? This is no different. It’s our right to live as we want and more importantly as who we are. So while some people might be able to handle a couple bad jokes, these are actually seen as a form of discrimination and prejudice.

There are many moments in the video that have what we consider pup community-related stigma just for being who and what we are. It might just be a man or woman with a mask on or a sexual fetish involving butt plug tails to the outsider, but we say you don’t need any gear on to be geared up as a pup. We identify as this species because we are this species, just as a trans person identifies and feels to their core they are something else. There’s an entire community out there that is getting scared back into hiding, and to me, that is not right.

We have the same rights everyone else has, and this video, while it seems innocent, it has hurt the Los Angeles Pup community, and it has hurt me to see them feel this pain, because I see so many wonderful things in our community.

I would like to say that all our communities are actually one community, but that doesn’t seem to always work out in our favor. When people who have fought hard to earn equal rights are quick to judge another segment of the community, it causes division inside the community and division with each other.

I’m just very lucky that pups are loyal and kind hearted, that most of them don’t blame me, and the ones that do are on their way to forgiving me. I can only hope that the behavior of this reporter doesn’t rub off on other reporters because as it stands, I have been approached with starting a screening process for media at all our events. As a man who has won several journalism awards, I have to consider that option, and it’s in direct conflict with my code of ethics. So I can’t tell anyone what to do, and it’s hard for people to understand, it’s just my hope that someday they will.

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