Pride Month: A list of LGBTQ+ climate activists you should know about
By Berit Thorson
June is Pride Month, a month dedicated to honoring and celebrating the LGBTQ+, or queer, community. Pride month is an important time to highlight some members of the queer community who are climate activists. These individuals work to help the environment all year long. In this blog post, you’ll meet some LGBTQ+ environmentalists we love, including one you’ll hear in an upcoming episode of Citizens’ Climate Radio!
Pinar Sinopoulos-Lloyd (they/them) is a transgender, Indigenous environmental activist. They are a co-founder of Queer Nature, an online community organization that provides “nature-based education” classes that “strive to go beyond recreation in nature to deep, slow, and thoughtful engagement with the natural world to build inter-species alliances and an enduring sense of belonging for all.” They have also co-founded Indigequeers, an online space “centering nonbinary, 2S [two spirit], trans Natives in the outdoors.” Sinopoulos-Lloyd is known for deep musings and reflections in which they discuss their perspective on their gender identity, relationships, and general experience as a queer person with intersecting identities who cares about the earth. These writings are often posted to their personal Instagram account, @queerquechua.
Pattie Gonia (they/she/he) is the environmental activist drag queen known for iconic eco-friendly dresses and big red hair. Wyn Wiley, the person transforming into Pattie as soon as the high heels and makeup are on, dressed in drag for the first time only a few years ago. In the intervening time since, the values Pattie Gonia stands for have resonated with millions of people, and have provided a road map to others who want to bring their full selves to climate activism. Pattie partners with brands such as REI, Backcountry, Aspiration, Hydro Flask, Tazo, and more to provide access to nature to queer youth through organizations like Brave Trails, a summer leadership camp for LGBTQ+ youth, and NOLS, a global wilderness school that teaches leadership techniques and outdoor skills. Wiley (and Pattie) has also co-founded The Outdoorist Oath, an environmentally-minded nonprofit we discussed during Black History Month.
Stephen Shelesky (he/him) is a photographer based in Jackson, Wyoming. He grew up skiing, and upon coming out as gay, made a movie about his experience called “Out West,” which you can watch here. His goal for much of his work is to “evoke an emotional attachment to the environment by capturing human connection to the outdoors.” The ski community is exclusive in multiple ways; it is inaccessible to people both financially and geographically, and Shelesky points out that for many, it is inaccessible socially, too.
Jenny Bruso (she/they) is a self-identified “queer fat femme dirt worshipper taking body liberation outdoors.” She is also the founder of Unlikely Hikers, a community empowering people who have historically been excluded from the outdoors to get outside. Unlikely Hikers hosts events across the country to bring people together who do not fit the mold of what society portrays as the typical hiker. Bruso’s goal “is to create a safe space for people of all abilities and backgrounds to enjoy hiking.”
Isaias Hernandez (he/they), the person behind @queerbrownvegan on Instagram, is a young environmental educator and eco-influencer. His focus is education about sustainability and environmental justice, with a framework that centers empathy and understanding. He often posts videos to social media that explain fads or environmental terms or encourage discussion around a supposedly sustainable habit or item. You can hear about Hernandez’s perspective on LGBTQ+ responses to climate change in July’s episode of Citizens’ Climate Radio.
Berit Thorson is a CCL Spring 2022 Communications Intern. As an outdoors enthusiast, she is passionate about protecting nature and people from the impacts of climate change, and is excited to be working with CCL toward these goals.