Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.Rachel Carson
Climate change as a result of global warming is affecting all of us. The most intersectional challenge of our time, the impact of climate change requires to be highlighted, particularly in the case of marginalized sections of society. Environmental problems touch every aspect of our global challenges, from racism to violence to social inequity.
Most discourses around gender and climate change restrict the discussion to the gender binary, with the issue of inequality faced by women. There exists a lack of representation of the broader gender spectrum that represents the reality of the world we live in. This inclusiveness is extensively studied under the subject of queer ecology. Queer ecology reimagines nature, biology and sexuality in light of queer theory. Rejecting the ideas of human exceptionalism and anthropocentrism, there is a regard for environmentalism concerning inclusiveness. All living beings are viewed as interrelated and interconnected. Anthropomorphic generalizations of “nature” are substituted with an understanding of the exploitation of nature and subsequently correlated with the exploitation of historically marginalized groups.
The impact of climate change on the LGBT community is an important topic because of a need for a seat at the table, ie – representation.
Environmental injustice: Marginalized groups are deprived of basic social, economic and political rights and opportunities. Queer youth — particularly trans and gender-nonconforming youth of colour — are 120 per cent more likely to be homeless. This places them along the frontlines of the dangers of climate change and its associated adversity. On facing the major brunt of the situation, these individuals become victims of environmental injustice – they take on the environmental burden of a privileged few.
Climate justice organizing: While disasters do not discriminate, relief and recovery practices do. Discrimination during a crisis is life-threatening and significantly sets back recovery for those who are discriminated against. According to the International Federation of Red Cross, discrimination persists and is often heightened during an emergency. For example, after the Indian Ocean tsunami, Dalit survivors were not allowed to drink water from the same tanks as the other castes, despite a shortage of resources. Furthermore, they were told to pick up dead bodies from the shore, without being provided gloves and masks. Although the Tamil Nadu government made efforts of providing segregated facilities and camps, there were still reports of the Dalit survivors receiving less disaster aid than other tsunami survivors. Similarly, the LGBT community is also prone to the risk of such treatment during dangerous times due to the heteronormative attitude of society.
The LGBT community brings essential knowledge and skills to the fight for climate change. In its struggle during the HIV/AIDS crisis, the community stood together, fighting for their rights when the government failed to acknowledge its needs. People who opposed HIV/AIDS research also promoted gay conversion therapy, developing faulty research and cherry-picked results to dehumanize the queer population. This lack of acknowledgement is similar to how people dismiss climate change as a conspiracy theory. The LGBT community educated the queer and straight masses, told our stories, harnessed the media, raised money, and in a very short time moved nations and industries to act not only for citizens in countries like the US and Canada, but also for people in other nations that can’t afford to subsidize the expensive drugs that they fought so hard to have developed.
Queer and trans communities embody a model of a world that lends itself well to the vision of a safe world where people can live in harmony by creating communities that sustain and celebrate all of us in our authentic being. Queer activists like Anthony Torres and other activists with #NoJusticeNoPride have made significant developments in the fight against climate change. They disrupted the Capital Pride Parade to demand that we reclaim Pride celebrations from the influence of banks and corporations like Wells Fargo that fund harmful projects such as the Dakota Access and Bayou Bridge pipelines. Youth-led climate organizations like Zero Hour and Our Climate Voices are also addressing the intersection of queer and trans liberation and climate justice.
Fundamentally, the discussion of climate change has to develop into a human rights issue. Each individual deserves an equal right and responsibility to the environment. Those that are guilty of harming nature, must have to explain themselves. The LGBT and other minority communities have to be recognized for the environmental injustice that they face at the hands of irresponsible corporations and world leaders that do not advocate for the fair and sustainable usage of natural resources. After all, we inhabit the same planet.
- Brady, A et. al. (2019, April 9) What the queer community brings to the fight for climate justice. Retrieved from: https://grist.org/article/what-the-queer-community-brings-to-the-fight-for-climate-justice/
- Cheves, A. (2018, November 6) Climate Change Is a Queer Issue, And We Must Vote to Save the Environment. Retrieved from: https://www.them.us/story/climate-change-vote-elections
- Goodwin, N. (2019, March 15) there is no planet b: why climate change is an lgbtq issue. Retrieved from: https://www.glaad.org/amp/no-planet-b-why-climate-change-is-an-lgbtq-issue
- Toscano, P. (2017, February 8) Hot Climate Action — LGBTQ Style. Retrieved from: https://climatestew.com/hot-climate-actionlgbtq-style
- Toscano, P (2014, July 14) And Ain’t I a Queer? LGBTQ Human Rights and Global Warming. Retreived from: https://petersontoscano.com/and-aint-i-a-queer-lgbtq-human-rights-and-global-warming/