Pride is both a celebration and a protest. It began with the Stonewall Uprising in 1969, which catalyzed the Gay Liberation Movement and has since become a global symbol for the LGBTQ+ community. It is a time to recognize the tremendous strides made by and for the queer community while also acknowledging and fighting for the work that still needs to be done to truly achieve equality for all members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Although it may not seem like it, climate science and environmentalism are inextricably linked with the LGBTQ+ community. In fact, many credit Rachel Carson, known queer activist and writer, and her best-selling 1964 book, Silent Spring, with beginning the modern environmentalist movement. A multitude of queer people have devoted their lives to climate activism and science today, and for good reason: the impact of climate change on our community is disproportionately severe.
Two major reasons for this discrepancy are poverty and housing insecurity. According to the Trevor Project, 28% of LGBTQ+ youth have reported experiencing homelessness or housing instability at some point in their life, with the highest rates reported amongst transgender and nonbinary youth. Transgender people also, regardless of housing status, experience poverty at a rate more than double the rest of the US population. People in these situations are forced to endure brutal temperatures, extreme weather events, and deal with polluted air and water created by dirty energy production.
In addition, gender-based violence and hate crimes are more likely to occur in the wake of extreme weather events. The number of trans, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming people lost in violent attacks has steadily grown since 2015, alongside weather anomalies that have been occurring more frequently than ever. After natural disasters, people are often displaced from their homes and communities, and can become cut off from resources. That kind of stress can result in violence toward partners and marginalized groups, which disproportionately impacts transgender people of color.
Perhaps most apparent of all, the same politicians and organizations who work to undermine climate initiatives are often also hostile toward LGBTQ+ rights. Strict adherence to gender norms and regressive heteronormativity holds a thematic similarity to the strict view of the Earth as something that should be used for its resources without care or moderation. The pervasive surveillance of LGBTQ+ people and enforcement of rigid heteronormative ideology has led to the persistent mistreatment of the community, sparking a need for organization and resiliency among its members. These are crucial components of climate activism and environmentalism as well. We are used to fighting for ourselves—fighting for our planet is simply an extension of the effort.
Fundamentally, environmentalism and LGBTQ+ rights are issues of humanity. How we treat our planet is a reflection of how we treat our fellow humans. There is a lot to celebrate this year—from the historic passage of the IRA to the return to in-person Pride marches and celebrations. However, while we now have the support of our presidential administration, we are continuing to battle cruel anti-trans laws in many states and climate change denying narratives. With our celebration comes protest. We are not where we need to be yet, but we can get there.
As a genderfluid man, I am honored to work at Nexamp and help preserve this beautiful planet for generations to come, queer and otherwise. Happy Pride, I hope you take this time to celebrate, and then to organize—our work is just beginning.