The weather has been beautiful, my flowers are planted, and I am geared up to be outdoors. As I’m out in the community, I love to talk with people as they’re walking their pets. I love animals and enjoy seeing the neighborhood come to life after winter. This month I was fortunate enough to interview Marlan Roberts, the Families Better Together™ (FBT) program manager at Spay and Neuter Kansas City. The FBT program engages with pets and pet owners in underserved neighborhoods to provide resources and education and to address pet welfare needs in these communities (snkc.net). Spay and Neuter Kansas City also offers a wide variety of services for pets at low cost to the owner. Before heading out to Pride with your best fur friend, make sure your pet is vaccinated and ready to meet new friends!
1. When did you first start working with animals?
I first starting working with animals back in 2008. I worked at the Kansas City Animal Shelter, now known as Kansas City Pet Project.
2. What led you to work with Spay and Neuter?
I was led to Spay and Neuter Kansas City because I knew there was more to helping animals besides shelter work, more on the preventive side. That is exactly what SNKC is about, and I enjoy helping families get access to affordable services for their pets to keep them happy, healthy and together.
3. What types of services does Spay and Neuter offer?
Spay and Neuter Kansas City offers low-cost spay and neuter services and a wellness care clinic. We also have an outreach program, which I manage, called Families Better Together. This is a boots-on-the-ground approach to provide education, wellness care (pet vaccination clinic), and resources to families living in underserved communities that own pets. We also offer Trap, Neuter, and Return assistance to community cats. Our program prides itself in being non-judgmental and working to create a positive outcome in any situation we are faced with.
4. Will Spay and Neuter have a table at KC Pride this year?
We plan to. If nothing else, our street team will be there handing out information about our services.
5. What challenges have you faced in being gay in the African American community?
It’s funny how things work. I honestly only had challenges in the beginning, when I first really came out, and that was not being confident in who I truly was/am. Once I assured myself about who I was and was able to accept me for me, everything else really didn’t matter. I just wanted my own happiness. If I’m happy, no one can steal my joy. I have a huge support system from my partner, family, and friends.
6. Let’s turn the previous question around a bit. What challenges have you faced being African American in the gay community?
I have not faced many challenges yet. I’m pretty low-key and stay in my own lane.
7. I have heard that you have plans to move to Florida. Why Florida?
Florida is very LGBT-friendly, so welcoming, lovely weather and a change in scenery. I have taken trips there each year for the last four to five years and I absolutely love it. I want to make that my new home, if it is meant to be.
8. June is Pride month. What is your favorite Pride memory?
I would have to say when I came out to my grandmother, and she told me that no matter what I chose to do, she will always be in my corner rooting for me and [be”> my number one supporter. That made my life so much easier.
9. I understand that you’re a Beyoncé fan. I have to ask you about your reaction to her album Lemonade, which is brilliant, in my humble opinion. What did she get right in this album (and don’t say everything because we know that!), and what is your favorite song?
I think Beyoncé’s album was amazing and a shocker. What I like is she pretty much expressed herself through her music, which is how it should be. Instead of hearing about her problems in the media, magazines, or blogs, you heard about it through her music, directly from her, which I’m sure helped her sales. Though I hate she even let anyone into her personal life, at least she was creative about it, and it added to her value. That is what I think she did right. My favorite song on the album … hmm … I would be torn between “Formation” and “Sorry.” Leaning more toward “Sorry.”
10. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
I would have to say Dubai. I chose Dubai because from pictures and reviews I have gotten from friends who have visited, it is a must to see/visit. Just something I would like to cross off my bucket list.