by Margaret Overton
I think I’m finally beginning to put a finger on why the concept of queer ecology seemed so strange to me. The LGBTQ movement is primarily about social issues: the right to marry, the right to job security, the right to use the bathroom that matches their gender identification, and most importantly, the right to simple acceptance by others. But on the other hand, environmental activism and the study of ecology is far more about tangible changes to the world around us: developing clean energy, decreasing pollution, preserving biodiversity, and protecting ecosystems. In short, the two movements have zero goals in common, making it odd from the beginning that they should be working together.
But when I began looking into the different justifications for queer ecology as a practice, rather than an equal partnership, it began looking more like the LGBTQ movement had simply taken ideas about nature and used them to support their own goals, while doing nothing to promote environmental causes. Ecology disproved the idea of homosexuality being “unnatural,” but the relationship was not reciprocal; LGBTQ activists have done little to return the favor.
I would argue that since the two movements lack common grounds in terms of their goals or even the types of outcomes they want to see from society, the concept of queer ecology lacks a clear purpose for existing. In some cases, individuals may have interests that extend beyond LGBTQ rights (vegetarianism or veganism, for example) and they are able to use these areas as a foundation for environmental causes, but unless some overlap exists between the broader movements, they ought to remain separate. Instead, the best way for LGBTQ individuals to support the environment is as human beings, just like everybody else.