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Queer Climate Voice: Pattie Gonia

CW: This article discusses topics of sexuality which could be distressing to some readers.

This is my first piece for Mindless Magazine, and I'll tell you a little secret: it's also my first article ever. So why not to start this journey by writing about topic that matters and it's LGBTQIA in pride month June, so there's no better time to talk about queer environmental advocate, Pattie Gonia, than now. In this article, we will be investigating the contributions of the queer community to the battle for climate justice. Our battle for queer and trans climate justice is profoundly personal for us. As climate change causes more natural disasters, environmental instability, and shortages, our communities, neighbours, and chosen families are particularly susceptible. We also understand that queer wisdom is critical to ensuring a sustainable future for all of us.

Who is Pattie Gonia?

Drag queens are noted for their extravagant clothes and irreverence. However, Wyn Wiley, aka Pattie Gonia, is an environmentalist drag queen on a quest to make the climate movement more inclusive. Pattie has over 470,000 Instagram followers, where she posts photographs and videos of herself hiking and camping in both drag and non-drag. She posed next to an oil rig to advocate for fossil fuel divestment, and she made a gown out of trash to raise awareness about plastic pollution.

Pattie Gonia's first TikTok was posted in December 2020, and each subsequent TikTok has been a bold statement about protecting the earth we live on. She utilises her platform to share her environmental advocacy through the art form of drag and speaks out about environmental concerns, breaking stereotypes about what a climate activist and 'outdoors person' looks like. She also organises treks and outdoor events for LGBTQ+ persons and allies, fostering safe, inclusive communities of people who like nature and are committed to safeguarding it.

No Planet, No Pride

We are already seeing that those most vulnerable and marginalised by the climate crisis are people with gender-specific risks in disaster displacement contexts, such as trans, non-binary, and intersex people, implying that LGBTQ+ communities around the world, many of whom have faced historical oppression, face a unique threat.

Trans people, particularly trans people of colour, suffer disproportionately during natural catastrophes, which are growing more often as our climate changes. During Hurricane Katrina, trans persons were discriminated against and even turned away from emergency shelters. Homeless individuals are particularly exposed to climate change's irregular weather occurrences. In the United Kingdom, 24% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ+. The intersection between queer justice and racial justice is often tangible in the environmental movement since many queer asylum seekers are people of colour. Beyond the immediate effects of climate change-related catastrophes, it is clear that relief and recovery procedures, as well as climate action plans, add to the LGBTQIA community's uneven burden.

Considering everything said above, it is clear that a determined and coordinated effort is required to ensure that LGBTQIA people are included and represented in disaster relief and recovery efforts connected to climate change. This should include not just identifying vulnerabilities via the creation of safe spaces and inclusion in the immediate aftermath of climate-related catastrophes, but also resilience through broad stakeholder participation in inclusive climate action planning to rebuild communities.

"Give all the damns you can. Take all the breaks you need. Fall in love with what you want to fight for and help other people fall in love with it, too." -Pattie Gonia

Entertainment for change

It could be stated that entertainment and comedy may be useful in environmental action. It's natural to be pulled to the medium of comedy when the going gets hard, whether it's homemade posters at protests reading or amusing memes about climate change denial.

Humour should never be used to minimise the severity of the climate crisis. Indeed, laughter may be a coping tool, and, perhaps more significantly, it binds people together. "At the end of the day, we're all simply people seeking entertainment and education," Wyn adds. "An environment that is devoid of laughter is typically uninviting." It's critical in the environmental field.

Wyn wraps up with some wise advice. "If there's one thing I could recommend people to do, it's to spend more time outside, get out there, because it'll help you realise precisely what's worth protecting." And on an endnote, there is no doubt that a diverse and inclusive movement is a strong movement that will create queer and climate justice.


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