Happy Pride! For the last several decades, June and early July have been a celebration of the LGBTQ+ community and a protest for our rights. Animals of the Pacific Northwest is focused on pet care, wildlife conservation, and environmental justice so why does Pride matter in this space? First and foremost, the person behind this project (hello!) is queer and the safety, happiness, and overall well-being of my community all matter to me. I can’t compartmentalize my life – every aspect of who I am affects what I do every single day. 

Second, I fully believe that queer and other marginalized folks (BIPOC, disabled people, etc) deserve to feel safe, accepted, and loved in any space, including the great outdoors. Thirdly, our human understandings and labels of sex, gender, and attraction aren’t universal truths for every living creature. This notion that queerness is “unnatural” is a talking point for some but in reality, queerness has existed in nature for a very, very long time.

Queer People Deserve To Exist

If you’ve been reading or watching the news in the US lately, it should come as no shock that queer people and other marginalized communities have been under attack. Legislation, like the numerous horrific anti-trans bills across the nation or Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, are working to alienate, criminalize, and/or just straight up eliminate LGBTQ+ people. Violent rhetoric continues to be thrown at queer people just for existing and visibly queer people face regular death threats both on and offline. The truth is that queer people deserve to safely exist and our queerness is a natural part of the world and important to our humanity. As Jesi Egan wrote for Slate:

Identifying as queer isn’t simply a matter of swapping your straight hat for a feather boa. For most of us, it is a lifelong process of crafting bodies, relationships, and selves that can make our lives fuller, our art more vibrant, and the task of existing a little less destructive.

As a side note, gender-affirming care and drag have both been used by trans and cis people alike for a long time and research actually shows that gender-affirming care can be life-saving.

Queerness In The Animal Kingdom

The phrase “it’s not natural” is often used by homophobic and transphobic folks to defend their opinions. But the truth is that the animal kingdom is far more nuanced and complex than most people are willing to admit and that includes sexuality and sex/gender. Same-sex behavior and gender-bending have both been seen in over 1,500 animal species, with observations of these behaviors going back hundreds of years. Evolutionarily speaking, there are benefits of same-sex sexual behavior, including social bonding, stress relief, and strengthen alliances/community. 

Queer Ecology

There is an entire field dedicated to understanding nature through a queer lens; former Climate Solutions Fellow at Grist  Marigo Farr describes queer ecology as a field that posits “that society’s norms around gender and sexuality are harmful to the earth, and that queerness can offer a different paradigm for human relationships and our relationship with the natural world”. Queer ecology and ecofeminism both challenge the idea that humans and nature are somehow intrinsically separate and both acknowledge the diversity of the natural world.

All of this is to say I am so proud to be queer and want to wish everyone a happy Pride month!

%d bloggers like this: