High heels may not be practical footwear for hiking. But when Pattie Gonia pulls on her six-inch stilettos to strut across a mountaintop, the environmentalist drag queen is not trying to rack up miles. She’s working to build a more inclusive climate movement. 

She says it starts by reclaiming the outdoors as a place where everyone belongs, “whether that’s queer people, whether that’s people of color, whether that’s disabled people,” she says. “I think for the longest time … we’ve been told that that’s not for us. That that’s not where we find people like ourselves.”

So Pattie uses her social media platform to share pictures and videos of herself hiking, camping, and speaking up about environmental issues. 

She posed next to an oil rig to push for fossil fuel divestment, and she created a gown made of actual trash to raise awareness of plastic pollution. 

She wants to redefine what an environmentalist looks like and invite everyone to bring their full self to the work of protecting nature and the climate. 

“If we can start with our ethnicity, our culture, our sexuality, our values and beliefs, as the deepest roots of our climate work, and that climate work reflects truly who we are, I think we’re going to be even more motivated … to do climate work and make it a longstanding piece of our lives,” she says.

Also see: A conversation with environmentalist drag queen Pattie Gonia

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media