LGBTQ+ Environmentalists You Should Know About

lgbtq environmentalists
There has been plenty of conversation about the overlap of environmentalists and LGBTQ+ activists. What they share is a vision of a better world, a world where people can lead their lives safely and as part of a community.
To kick off Pride Month, we’re celebrating a handful of LGBTQ+ environmental leaders. These are people from the LGBTQ community who have stood up to be leaders for climate justice, for environmental science, even the woman who gave modern American environmentalism its birth.

Rachel Carson

Did you know that the global environmental movement was founded by an LGBTQ person – scientist and marine biologist Rachel Carson of the United States? Her ground-breaking book ‘Silent Spring’ (1962) came from her scientific studies into the effects of the chemical DDT and other pesticides on natural habitats around the world. Throughout Carson’s career studying and researching environmental science, she had many other accomplishments in addition to her written works. She won many awards for her discoveries and brought awareness to the public about what we as humans do that causes damage to the environment.

Ceci Pineda

Ceci Pineda is a gender non-conforming organizer with the Audre Lorde Project in New York City, “a community organizing center run for and by lesbian, gay, bisexual, two-spirit, trans, and gender non-conforming people of color.” On behalf of the project, they drafted a letter of solidarity with the climate justice movement, drawing attention to the less-talked-about environmental justice movement led by people of color most disproportionately affected by climate change. They are a graduate of Brown University and founder of RADIKO, which “envisions an inclusive climate justice movement led for and by those who are most impacted by climate change, rooted on a shared value system that honors life,” and provides tools for educators to run climate justice workshops specifically for communities of queer and trans people of color living on the frontlines of climate violence.

Pattie Gonia

Self-described as the “world’s first backpacking queen,” drag queen and social media personality Pattie Gonia brings a fresh, fun, and inclusive perspective to the outdoors community. Often captured wearing high-heeled boots and dancing atop a mountain, Pattie Gonia carries messages of diversity, outdoor immersion, and environmental advocacy. Pattie Gonia is portrayed by photographer and skier, thru-hiker, and rock climber Wyn Wiley. Wiley sees Pattie Gonia as a way to inspire people, particularly the LGBTQ community, people of color, and fat folks, to immerse themselves in the outdoor spaces from which they have been historically excluded.

Stephen Fry

An English conservationist through the Healthy Planet charity, Fry has given his mother an adopted hectare of Cambridgeshire Fen, a project restoring more than 9,000 acres of fenland habitat in Cambridgeshire, helping to conserve one of Britain’s most beautiful and biodiverse areas. Fry was also given a Lifetime Achievement Award at the LGBT Awards. Every year Stephen is delighted to invite all his Terrence Higgins Trust “Friends for Life” and “Associate Friends” to his summer Gala Dinner and to a special Christmas party as a supporter of making a difference to all those lives shattered by HIV.

Rose Marcario

Marcario is well known for the twelve years she spent at Patagonia Clothing Co. as their President and CEO. As an LGBTQ+ environmental advocate, Marcario had her hands in many areas of conservation work, including advocating for better policies, fighting climate change, and increasing voter turnout. Patagonia writes that she also “oversaw the company’s strategy to protect millions of acres of land including Bears Ears National Monument (Utah), Jumbo Valley (British Columbia) and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (Alaska).” In 2015, Marcario was featured in Fortune for her radical activism, and in 2020, she ranked #1 on Fast Company’s Queer 50 List for her successes in expanding Patagonia’s “social and environmental commitments.”

Rikki Weber

California resident Rikki Weber works as Legal Practice Manager and Litigation Assistant II at EarthJustice, a nonprofit that use “the power of law” to protect people and wildlife and fight climate change. As a queer woman of color, Weber has long been involved in racial justice and the LGBTQ+ community. She started an LGBTQ+ group at EarthJustice to provide a welcoming space for herself and her coworkers, a place where LGBTQ+ environmentalists can be recognized. Weber has also been on a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion team at EarthJustice, where she’s advocated for employee engagement.

Harvey Milk

Harvey Milk was one of the first openly gay politicians elected to office in the United States, and the first openly gay official elected in California. His ambitious reform agenda included protecting gay rights—he sponsored an important anti-discrimination bill—as well as establishing daycare centers for working mothers, the conversion of military facilities in the city to low-cost housing, reform of the tax code to attract industry to deserted warehouses and factories, and other issues. He was a powerful advocate for strong, safe neighborhoods, and pressured the mayor’s administration to improve services for the Castro such as library services, and community policing. In addition, he spoke out on state and national issues of interest to LGBT people, women, racial and ethnic minorities and other marginalized communities.

Pride Month is a time to celebrate diversity, identity, and the important strides made in LGBTQ+ rights and equality. Alongside this progress, LGBTQ+ people have created resounding impacts in conservation and environmental justice. 

Happy Pride Month all LGBTQ+ professionals! Thank you for the innovative work you do to fight climate change and create better environmental policies for our future.

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