Does this Climate Change Activism Make Me Look Straight??

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Sometimes I feel like the only Climate Gay in the Village. Sure there are LGBTQ folks concerned with accessorizing their carbon footprints and buying trendy eco-friendly products, but when it comes to climate change, it seems most of us live on another planet

No doubt we have been preoccupied with fighting for our recognition in a world that treated us like toxic waste. Not that long ago whenever a major weather catastrophe hit, Christian ministers lined up on TV to declare that homosexuals magically stirred up the waters. That or they proclaimed we incurred the wrath of a God who seemed far more concerned with butt action at a New Orleans bath house over the weekend than to what we have been spewing out of our chimneys into the atmosphere for the past 100 years.

Yes, we have been distracted with a protracted fight for our basic rights and protections. Today many LGBTQ people throughout the developing world face severe, consistent, cruel discrimination, and a dismal lack of basic rights. This is also very true for trans* people in North America and Europe. Sure we can say that for some of us in the LGBTQ Rainbow Collective that “It Gets Better,” but we all know there is work to do.

So who has time or energy for climate change?? We are busy fighting for our rights or with caterers over the perfect gay wedding.

We are in a funny time in history, a time when LGBTQ people in the developed world have more rights and protections than ever before. We also live in a time in which we have altered the chemistry of the planet to such an extreme extent that if we don’t act immediately to stop the insanity, we are looking at a dire, perhaps impossible future. Great, I can get gay married just in time for the end of the world. The worse part is that me and my “gay lifestyle will likely get blamed for it! (As opposed to our fossil fuel lifestyle and overpopulation of the planet.)

For me there is something decidedly queer about Climate Change, yet when I attend Citizen Climate Lobby meetings and Climate Rallies, I feel I am swimming in a sea of white, gender-normative, heterosexuals. Nice people, but we need over voices from other rooms.

I am a climate queer actively looking to develop Queer Responses to Climate Change? What about you? What might those responses look like?

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This post has 10 Comments

  1. Sherri Michalovic on April 17, 2014 at 8:53 am Reply

    I’m straight and I appreciate that you are adding an additional voice to the battle!

    • Peterson Toscano
      Peterson Toscano on April 17, 2014 at 9:13 am Reply

      Thanks, Sherri, and congratulations on being the VERY FIRST person to comment on my brand new blog on my brand new site!

  2. Joe G. on April 17, 2014 at 11:50 am Reply

    I understand that climate change is important, but I can’t help noticing that you’re still using “LGBTQ” as opposed to “QUILTBAG”.

    • Peterson Toscano
      Peterson Toscano on April 17, 2014 at 12:04 pm Reply

      Please Sir Joe, teach me your wisdom :P
      Glad you found my new blog address. I always need a healthy dose of snark.

  3. Kevin L. Miller on April 20, 2014 at 10:14 am Reply

    What a wonderful post, Peterson! As a gay man who has worked as a business consultant to Fortune 500 corporations for 25 years, I have observed that the straight, conservative corporate world often views gay men and lesbians and transgendered people as individuals who have abdicated their power. I am especially offended when we are treated like cute little pets. No more. I have initiated a “Future Best Practices Business Study and Conference” on Climate Change, with my brother, Dr. Chris Miller and Innovation Focus Inc, and internationally renowned climatologist Dr. Leah Goldfarb. We are looking for 15 to 30 big companies who want to collaborate to invent solutions for 1.) Sustainable Businesses, 2.) Sustainable Products, 3.) Sustainable Business Practices, 4.) Sustainable Energy Strategies, that will allow companies to survive, make real profits and do the right thing for all life on earth. Deliverables and outcomes for the 6-month study and conference are potentially huge, and the price tag is small at $24,000 compared to what it would cost a company to do this alone. Please let me know if you are aware of any companies that might like to talk to me about participating. Call me, Kevin Miller at 215-837-8171 or email me at KLMillerIF@hotmail.com — It’s crunch time — time to get serious, or seriously funny and creative (like YOU Peterson) about global climate change. Time is running out! I salute you for this wonderful blog, Peterson! Godspeed! – Kevin

  4. Sean-Allen Parfitt on April 27, 2014 at 8:36 am Reply

    Peterson,

    Lately I’ve found myself wondering how on earth we still have resources to sustain our society. Just think of all the plastic being used and then just simply thrown away! How is there enough iron in the earth to counteract all the card sitting, rusting in junk yards, when we use it to build massive sky scrapers and millions of vehicles and enormous warships? How do we keep churning out gasoline to power all our cars and busses and airplanes?

    Unfortunately I ask these questions, but do nothing. I don’t know what to do, and when I do, I forget to recycle, because it’s easier for me and my boyfriend to throw our plastic bottles in the trash instead of recycling. We’re looking at buying a second car because public transportation is inconvenient.

    I wish there were easy answers. Some are, some are not. What *can* I do as a sustainable effort?

    ~A gay man from Albany, New York

    • Peterson Toscano
      Peterson Toscano on May 9, 2014 at 10:36 am Reply

      Hey Sean-Allen,
      I thought I had responded to this already. May have been in a allergy medicine-induced stupor and dreamt I responded.

      Thank you for asking these questions. Seriously I find it is easy to get overwhelmed. Interestingly enough one study shows that LGBTQ folks are far more concerned about the environment than their straight counterparts (it was just one study and I have questions about it but think the ultimate findings are probably accurate.) But what do we do with this concern? Lower our carbon footprint? Buy fancy eco-friendly products? Many of the solutions we get in progressive liberal circles include individual efforts–If we each just do our part, we will solve this problem.

      But for many of us that feels false, and in fact, it is. Not that there is anything wrong with recycling and such, but we need to understand that the problem is so severe and requires such radical action on international and national levels, that if it is busy as usual we will literally recycle ourselves to dooms day.

      So then what? Do I just give up? Become a different kind of denier–a hope denier? Absolutely not. We are not dead in the water yet. We still have time to make a difference and to prepare for some unavoidable changes coming our way.

      The first step is to get educated about climate change. We need an informed public, something that will not happen by exclusively watching network and cable news which barely covers climate change and when it does so, mostly does it poorly.

      Soon I will put up links to articles that I have found helpful, many of them selected by Prescott and Jennifer and Keisha, team members with me. Also, I will write a blog post specifically addressing your questions; they are shared by many people.

      Thank you for your comment and your honesty. Stay tuned.

  5. Joe Manson on May 9, 2014 at 10:21 am Reply

    lol “Great, I can get gay married just in time for the end of the world. ” love it. Our apocalyptic future puts things like ‘gay marriage’ into perspective.

  6. Dee on May 12, 2014 at 3:25 pm Reply

    Hi Peter,
    I’m a lesbian very deeply involved in climate change activism – there are a lot of us but we are not seen as a “constituency” in this fight for our survival. I would be very interested to try to create a visible presence for Climate Change as an organizing issue at the NYC Pride Parade. Could we make that happen? Also, could you spread the word among your extensive networks about the huge People’s Climate March that will be happening in the fall. There’s an important organizing meeting next week so it would be good to get the word out. See the announcement below. If you are interested in the Pride Parade question please email me.
    thanks,
    Dee
    ****
    Please join us on May 20th for a big city-wide organizing meeting to discuss plans for an historic climate march this September.

    PEOPLE’S CLIMATE MARCH
    New York City September 20-21
    This is an invitation to change everything!

    In September, world leaders are coming to New York City for a historic UN summit on climate change. With our future on the line and the whole world watching, we’ll take a stand to bend the course of history.

    Together, we’ll fill the streets to demand a global reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and a world with an economy that works for people and the planet. A world with jobs, clean air, and healthy communities for all. A world safe from the ravages of climate change.

    To change everything, we need everyone on board.
    September 20-21 in New York City. Join us. peoplesclimatemarch.org

    ORGANIZING MEETING – May 20th @ 6:30PM
    AT SEIU 32BJ – 25 WEST 18TH STREET, MANHATTAN, 5TH FLOOR

    Momentum is already building for what promises to be a massive march calling on the governments of the world to get serious about the global climate crisis. You are invited to attend an organizing meeting for people and groups throughout the New York metropolitan area.

    Come to the May 20th organizing meeting!!

    • Learn why the timing of this mobilization is so important.
    • Find out what’s being planned.
    • Discuss how you can be involved in this historic effort.

    If you are part of an organization or a concerned individual, we encourage your participation.
    RSVP: NYC@PEOPLESCLIMATE.ORG

    • Peterson Toscano
      Peterson Toscano on May 12, 2014 at 6:05 pm Reply

      Dee, GREAT to hear from you. Your comment gives me great joy. I will be in South Africa on May 20th, but I would like to stay in the loop about the Pride March this summer and the People’s Climate March in the fall. I will be sure to let people know about both.

      Thank you!
      -Peterson

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