Happy Pride month, friends! It’s June, which means that many lgbtq+ and two-spirit people around the world are celebrating, reflecting, and seeking ways to recharge. For everyone in the conservation community, this also needs to be a time to recommit to making the places and groups we work in be welcoming, safe, inclusive, and fair for all.
Why? Part of the reason is that we’re experiencing a time when queer-identified people are finding their voices, lifting up their identities, and reveling in the tangled joys and challenges of being human – and natural.
Nature has always “accepted” us.
There is great beauty in how we belong and can contribute to the conservation and protection of the natural world. Think of our conservation queer ancestors who could not bring their full selves to their places of work; they were afraid of getting fired, they kept relationships hidden—often at terrible personal costs.
They were unable to live their true identities due to social norms of the time and targeted discrimination. Yet they accomplished so much for conservation campaigns and kept those doors cracked open for new generations.
At our Friends Grassroot Summit last month, held at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque, leaders from this “new generation” lead a session: “Cultivating an Inclusive Workplace: Strategies from at LGBTQ+ Lens.”
They presented specific techniques for creating allyship and workplace cultural change so that lgbtq+ people can give their all to this critical work. They discussed why it’s important to move from “caring” about lgbtq+ people to taking concrete actions that support and empower them.
Doing so lifts up chances to sustain the natural world and is an essential force to fighting Republican-led state legislatures attempting to pass an unprecedented number of laws discriminating against lgbtq+ people and, especially, laws that hurt trans kids and criminalize their families.
The conservation and lgbtq+ equality movements have long shared similarities: we often share the inherent belief that the world can be a better place and that determined communities can enact that vision.
We also share a desire to create and protect safe, sustained, and healing places—we do that as queer people who have always built our own communities. Conservationists seek that too, when protecting a forest, public lands, a river—for both people and the nonhumans that live there.
As we successfully build welcoming, safe, and just places for everyone to work and thrive, we will inevitably find greater success and sustained hope.