Like many queer individuals, Don Sturz has had a lifelong love affair with dogs. As a young boy grappling with his sexuality, Sturz found solace and self-worth in training his dogs for competition. Decades after his first appearance at the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, established in 1877, Sturz served as a Best in Show judge at the 2022 event, awarding the title to the first Bloodhound, Trumpet. Last year, he made history as the first openly gay president of the Westminster Kennel Club. A former educator and mental health expert, Sturz frequently speaks about the positive relationship between dogs and humans, emphasizing how dogs can bring joy and purpose to people’s lives. He suggests this is particularly true for marginalized communities like LGBTQ. Ahead of this year’s Kennel Club Dog Show, which was held in May, Sturz shared insights on the LGBTQ community’s unique bond with dogs and the valuable lessons we can learn from them. Speaking to The Advocate, Don Sturz shared his views on whether LGBTQ+ people are overly represented in the professional dog world or if it is just a stereotype. He said, “LGBTQ+ community is very represented in the sport of dogs. For a young gay guy growing up in a sport where some of the most highly regarded, most successful, most respected participants were individuals from the LGBTQ+ community, that representation was very significant for me.”