Meet the 650-pound internet-famous pig with two gay dads
When Steve Jenkins and Derek Walter adopted Esther, they thought she was a micropig who would grow to around 70 pounds.
Little did the gay couple, who live in the small town of Georgetown in Ontario, Canada, know that Esther would end up being nearly 10 times that weight.
The family – which also includes dogs, cats, turtles and koi – has attracted a huge following.
Esther has 1.3 million fans on Facebook, more than 450,000 on Instagram, and is now the subject of a children’s book written by her owners, called The True Adventures of Esther the Wonder Pig.
The story is one of love, acceptance and the universal message that families which seem unorthodox can be as loving as any other.
“One of the primary messages we want to get through to readers of all ages is that families come in all shapes and sizes,” Jenkins told The Advocate.
“It’s okay to be different too because that’s what makes your family special.
“That goes for animals too. We want them to realise how important it is to be kind to all kinds of people, and of course, all kinds of animals.”
Walter, a professional magician, said that soon after starting a Facebook page for Esther in 2013, it became clear that she had star potential.
“Inexplicably, people started noticing Esther’s smile and her capacity for love,” he said.
“And now, for that reason, she has become a ‘happy place’ for a lot of people. Somewhere they come to laugh along with her, be reminded to smile on a sad day.
“They see what could be seen as a very unusual family at first glance, but quickly realise we’re not really that unusual at all. We might not look the same, but we love each other just like any other family does.”
He added: “We started receiving so many daily messages from adults telling us that Esther’s antics and smiles were able to help them with life’s challenges, and that when they shared a video or picture with their children, that they too in turn smiled and laughed.
“So it was just a natural fit for us to expand our reach to a whole new generation.”
But, he said, not everyone has been so positive.
He and Jenkins, a former real estate agent, have received some homophobic messages – which they respond to in an admirable way.
“We have received some negative mail about our relationship,” said Walter. “We thank people for their comment and explain to them that we are about kindness and compassion.”
“And if they are followers, they’ve obviously missed something, as they aren’t getting the message. Because, despite their opinions, at the end of the day, we’ll still be gay,” he added.
But the positive consequences of their page, he said, have outweighed the negatives.
“We have heard from parents who say that they were able to show their child that it was okay to have same-sex parents, that ‘Esther has two dads too,'” he said.
Jenkins explained: “Esther taught us that all beings just want to be loved, even those that most people just view as food.”
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“That pigs are no different from our other pets, that they crave attention, will both give and receive affection, and that all animals, especially farmed animals are so deserving of our love and compassion and should not be treated just as a commodity for man’s insatiable appetites.”
We have no confirmation about Esther’s sexuality – it seems obvious that she would be accepted regardless – but we do know that a variety of animals can be gay.
Cats, for instance, can be gay, lesbian or bisexual.
Dogs can definitely be gay.
And gay lions have shown their pride in front of audiences more than once.