Finding His Voice
Throughout high school and college, Daniel Edge knew he was gay. But he kept that a secret.
“I was closeted and fearful for how life would be out of the closet due to my living in a very conservative and rural environment,” he said. “I was not quite comfortable being myself until I was in veterinary school at Iowa State.”
It was in Ames that Edge (DVM 2003) first came out to his family and friends.
“Moving from North Carolina to Ames, I knew I wouldn't know anyone and no one would really know me,” he said, “so it was the right time and ideal opportunity for me to come out.”
Today Edge diligently works with the LGBTQIA veterinary community to make sure veterinary students have the support necessary to be themselves. He’s been active in Pride VMC (formerly LGVMA), a LGBTQIA student organization, serving as a national board member for a number of years. He has also engaged with the Iowa State CVM Spectrum Club as a supporter and recent alumni panelist for current students. He took advantage of living in the New York City metro area to march with Pride VMC as part of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York City this past June.
“I felt I need to give back,” Edge said. “Members of the LGBTQIA community have every reason to be fearful and worried. I try to be vocal and visible when I can. I want to set an example for my children for how you can stand up for values of inclusion and diversity in your everyday life."
Being vocal and visible about his sexuality started while he was a DVM student at Iowa State. It continued when he began his first job search.
“I made a commitment to myself that when I interviewed I would be proactive and tell my prospective employers I was gay,” Edge said. “I had met my husband by then and I thought, ‘I can’t move around the world with this person and not be open about our relationship.’ I’m going to have my family’s picture on my desk and not worry about it. While HR policies may preclude an employer from asking me about my marital status, I knew that offering up information during an interview would give me an indication of how true they were to their written diversity and inclusion policies.
“If my family was an issue with an employer, then I didn’t want to work there.”
Edge says all of his employers have been overwhelmingly positive. After graduating from Iowa State, he worked as an emergency veterinarian in a referral practice in his home state of North Carolina. He spent six years there before the late hours and weekends started to wear on him.
He joined Abbott Animal Health as a veterinary liaison or field technical services veterinarian and held several positions of increasing responsibility with the company before Abbott was sold to Zoetis in 2015. Edge and his husband met in 2002 and were legally wed in Iowa in 2009. They currently live in New Jersey with their two adopted children where he is Zoetis’ director of medical affairs.
In this role, Edge is responsible for U.S. medical strategy for the Petcare division. He says he relies on his team to keep him up-to-date on market dynamics and medical advancements relevant to therapeutic areas of interest to the company. He is also a frequent conference coordinator and speaker within company events.
“I never saw myself doing this,” he says. “I always thought I would have stayed focused in a clinical setting and I think of myself as a traditional introvert. I’ve had to learn how to leverage myself in many different ways.
“It’s not that I don’t enjoy presenting or engaging with various stakeholders, I would describe myself as a situational extrovert. I’ve learned to build relationships so it makes me feel more comfortable when I have to speak.”
Building relationships has also proven key to Edge in his personal life as well. He doesn’t hide his sexuality and wonders what might have been if he had gotten the encouragement that he now dispenses to LGBTQIA veterinary students.
“I was that Average Joe – the little farm boy has gotten married to a man and now has kids,” Edge said. “I want to live by example to demonstrate to younger generations that you can be true to yourself and find success with your work and even build a family. I am glad that my example has proven beneficial to others.”
Edge has received notes through social media outlets that he is making a difference.
“I’ve received messages from other gay fathers that said my story had motivated and inspired them to explore adoption as a pathway to parenthood," Edge said. "I think I've made a positive impact on people. That's a gift you don't get that often."