Carole Baskin has revealed that she is bisexual, and that she discovered her sexuality while spending time with the LGBT+ community during the AIDS crisis.
Speaking with PinkNews just two weeks after her elimination from Dancing with the Stars, Baskin said she was first immersed in the queer community when she was engaged to a psychologist who worked with LGBT+ people in the 1980s.
The Tiger King star said: “I was engaged to a psychologist, and that was his entire field, dealing with the LGBT+ community.
“It was during the period when AIDS was just wreaking havoc around the world, and people were losing their loved ones, and so I became very close to people in that community then.”
Carole Baskin has ‘always considered herself bisexual’.
Growing up, the Big Cat Rescue owner felt that she was “probably born into the wrong body” because she was such a “tomboy”.
“I was always very male-oriented in the things I did… I never had any mothering instincts or anything, you know, I never played with dolls. And so I always thought that there was something off there, that I couldn’t quite put my finger on.
“But it was during the ’80s that I discovered that through dealing with the LGBT+ community that I [realised] I had just as equal feelings for women as I did for men.”
Even though I’ve never had a wife, I could just as easily have a wife as a husband.
Baskin added: “I have always considered myself to be bisexual. Even though I’ve never had a wife, I could just as easily have a wife as a husband.
“As far as the way I feel about us, I think we are all one and I just don’t see us as being different genders or different colours or anything.”
As for Joe Exotic — the gay redneck tiger breeder who starred in Tiger King and was convicted of plotting to kill Baskin — does Baskin feel that he is a good representation of the queer community?
“I think he’s an embarrassment to the human community,” she tells PinkNews.
“It’s not a matter of what your sexuality is, this man is just a deviant in the way that he treats human life and animal life.
“I think he’s a malignant narcissist, and that it’s all about him. It doesn’t have anything to do with any of the communities that he may associate himself with.”
Dancing with the Stars helped Carole Baskin fund Big Cat Rescue, which has lost $1 million during the pandemic.
Just two weeks ago, Carole Baskin was eliminated from Dancing with the Stars after two snarling, feline-themed performances.
She explains her feet are still recovering from the gruelling training, but there was more to her participation on the show than learning dance moves.
Her animal sanctuary, Big Cat Rescue, gets a third of its funding from visitors, and so has suffered financially during the coronavirus pandemic.
“When COVID-19 hit, we had to cancel tours because there’s no way to take people around the property without them being all packed together… So that’s over a million dollars of our income that we’re having to find other ways to augment, which was part of going on Dancing with the Stars.”
It wasn’t just the stress of keeping the sanctuary afloat that was worrying Baskin.
“We closed our gates on March 15, and then I think Tiger King came out on March 18,” she said.
“So in the same week, we had COVID-19 hit and Tiger King portraying us as this God awful place that abused animals, and I mean, all of the crazy things they said about us.
“That made people call me up and say they were going to burn the place to the ground, they were going to turn the cats loose, not understanding that you can’t raise a cat in a cage and then just release it into the wild.
“That’s not legal. And you don’t want me doing it in your neighbourhood, I’m sure.”
She added: “My phone started ringing, and it rang every two minutes for three months straight, with people screaming at me how much they hated me.”
Although Exotic is now behind bars, Baskin still fears for her life every day as she knows she has many more critics.
“Cheetahs don’t live very long in captivity because they have such high cortisone stress levels,” she explained.
“It makes me wonder if I’m just gonna like really burn out… I don’t know if the human body is meant to take this kind of constant fight or flight.”
Carole Baskin’s drive to keep fighting the ‘bad guys’ is inspired by bobcats.
Despite the stress and the abuse and the threats, Carole Baskin is still motivated to take on the animal-abusing “bad guys”. Inspired, she explains, by bobcats.
“My favourite cats are bobcats. And the reason is that they’re only 20 to 30 pounds, but they will take on anything or anybody and they just will not back down.
“I love that as a goal to strive for, no matter how big and scary that bad guy is.
“I’m going to go after them, at great peril to myself, because I just feel like the right thing is going to come out of this.”