Through all the hardship the LGBTQ+ community encounters, they/we are not only resilient, but through music, fashion, art, science and culture, have often moved society forward. So now, with our climate in crises mode and younger activists taking on the voice and challenge to do something about it, is it any wonder that a new group of queer activists (social justice being inextricable from environmental justice, human exploitation explicitly linked to resource devastation) have arrived loud and proud on the scene? Here are nine queer activists that we love and follow.
Who said drag queens can’t go green? “Intersectional environmentalism lets us weave in our humanity, our culture, our queerness and our color, into environmental work. We tell ourselves that all these issues are separate, but I think the magic happens when you intersect one thing with another. If you look at any space where people are making change, you will find queer people. You will find people of color. You will find indigenous people. And you’ll find women,” explains Patti Gonia (aka the photographer and queer activist Wyn Wiley).
From the first time they put on their 6” heels on a Rocky Mountain hike, Pattie found a way to use their drag persona to bring awareness about climate change whilst also calling attention to the relationship between the queer community and nature. Wary of personal attention, Pattie challenges us to think about intersectionality and how climate plays a role in our communities. By using humor, funny memes, home-made signs (“the planet is hotter than my boyfriend”) laughter and love, the hard work of climate justice –through Pattie’s eyes– becomes just a little easier.
College student Jamie Margolin is a queer climate activist and film maker. While in school at NYU she has been working on an animated short about giving in to climate grief.
While still in high school, Margolin co-founded Zero Hour, an international youth climate justice movement. Zero Hour uplifts the voices of youth to call out the insufficient protection the environment faces due to the lack of initiatives from elected officials. Margolin started with outrage at this inaction. And she turned it into a movement. She organized a youth climate march on Washington attended by thousands of students and has stood alongside Greta Thunberg to testify in front of the US Congress about actions needed. Her resilience is inspiring and we are excited to see the work she continues to do.
Queer Brown Vegan (Isaias Hernandez)
Environmental educator Isaias Hernandez created Queer Brown Vegan, as a safe space to learn about environmentalism, veganism and zero waste practices. Isaias keeps us informed on environmental injustices and the zero waste movement. In our interview Isaias with us he talks about how his role as an environmentalist and educator goes beyond teaching what he knows.
“I understand that as an environmentalist there are way worse situations happening in other communities that I honestly cannot even speak on behalf of and so I think that its only right for me to center those conversations for them,” he said. “And really looking at if you are being an ally or a bridge builder while ensuring that your own positionality in life has meaning to you and to the work and to the people around you.”
If you’ve been to big cities like NYC, D.C and Richmond, you may have seen Toruño’s art without knowing it. Johanna Toruño is a queer Latinx and the founder of the Unapologetic Street Series. Born in the middle of a civil war in El Salvador and taken to the US at the age of 10, her journey hasn’t been the smoothest. Yet even with all the adversity she faced, Toruño found a way to express herself through street art. On the streets of cities she visits she creates posters and murals challenging ideas of race, sexuality and identity. She unapologetically lets the world know how she’s feeling and pushes us to think deeper. Love it or hate it, no one can deny that her street art makes a statement that provokes and inspires.
Queer indigenous activist, Pinar Sinopoulos-Lloyd, is the co-founder of Queer Nature. Queer Nature is a queer-run nature education and ancestral skills program serving their local LGBTQ+ community. The program allows the LGBTQ+ community to find a way to create a closer connection. Pinar’s love for the environment and intersectionality between queerness and nature extends beyond their role at Queer Nature. They are a founding member of Intersectional Environmentalism (IE). An inclusive form of environmentalism that advocates for the protection of all people and the planet. They also are the trans ambassador of Native Women’s Wilderness and the 2020 recipient of Audubon National Society’s National Environmental Champion. Pinar strives to do what they can to positively impact the relationship between nature, the LGBTQ+ community and BIPOC and we are in complete support of it.
Charlie Amáyá Scott
Charlie Amáyá Scott is a transgender academic and activist from the Navajo Nation who uses their personal blog, Diné Aesthetics, and social media platforms to highlight meaningful causes that help protect and support BIPOC queer and trans people. Charlie has advocated for Indigenous LGBTQ2S+ survivors of sexual violence, the right to medical abortions, and was recently featured as a Disruptor of the Week for the nonprofit organization Disturbing Inequity. On TikTok, they create content and share writing that celebrates their indigenous culture and are currently a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Denver in Colorado.
In December of 2022, Olivia Julianna was named one of Bloomberg’s 50 most influential people of the year. The twenty-year-old Texan self-identifies as a “queer, plus-size, disabled Latina” and has amassed a following of over one million viewers on her TikTok and Twitter. Olivia makes informative videos that provide political news updates and once successfully encouraged her audience to donate over $2 million to the Gen-Z for Change Abortion Fund in the course of a week. She is the Director of Politics and Government Affairs at Gen-Z for Change and recently received the Planned Parenthood Legends in the Making Award.
Yasmin Benoit is a British asexual model and activist who has appeared in Teen Vogue, PAPER Magazine, Forbes, and Cosmopolitan, among other publications. She gave a TedTalk on the importance of asexual representation in the media and is the creator of the hashtag, #ThisIsWhatAsexualityLooksLike, which has sparked a movement towards asexual visibility. Last year she founded the Stonewall x Yasmin Benoit Ace Project, a British initiative that aims to improve life for asexual folx through research that centers employment, health, and education.
At sixteen years old, Rebekah Bruesehoff has already become an accomplished writer, joined Marvel’s Hero Project, and modeled for GAP. The transgender activist has testified in support of legislation that encourages LGBTQ+ curricula to be taught in schools in New Jersey and launched her own book drive in 2019 to promote access to inclusive media. Rebekah is also a part of the GenderCool project, a campaign dedicated to sharing the stories of trans youth. Her book, A Kid’s Book About Being Inclusive, was published in 2021.
–Janelle Sessoms + Emma Kendall
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