Queering the Climate

Drag performer Detox queers the climate. 

Courtesy of Queers for the Climate.

In a moment when marriage equality can feel like the sole focus of LGBTQ activism, some voices in the movement have begun to ask if the community’s purview should be so limited. Why not use the critical distance from mainstream culture that being queer has traditionally afforded to critique not just issues that affect LGBTQ lives specifically, but problems that impact the lives of everyone else as well.

This is the ethos behind Queers for the Climate, a new group of queer-identified activists who have made it their mission to advocate for action on global warming. What does being queer have to do with caring about climate change? The group’s logic goes like this:

We’ve trained for this fight. We have faced persecution because of who we are and stood up to those who denied our existence. Our communities faced near extinction throughout the early HIV/AIDS crisis. Today we are all facing the grave threat of an unstable climate.

Queers for the Climate counts among its membership LGBTQ icons like John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch), Ira Sachs (Love Is Strange), and actor Alan Cumming, and it’s using that clout to help organize for the People’s Climate March, a demonstration scheduled to take place in New York City during a major United Nations meeting on global warming later in September.

And they’re raising awareness about the issue with a sense of humor: In a video released last week online, the group sends a correspondent to Fire Island, a gay resort community off the coast of Long Island, to ask the queers assembled there how they plan to get involved with saving their beloved beach. The Fire Island National Seashore is, after all, one of the areas of the country under most immediate threat from rising oceans.

It’s a smart tactic—global warming may be a hard concept for some to comprehend, but the idea of holding a tea dance underwater is as simple as it is unappealing.