April 22 is Earth Day, an event that is used to inspire awareness and appreciation for environmental issues. This year will be the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day, and throughout America a great many people will come together to get involved in sustainability projects and environmental awareness drives so as to highlight this important cause and it’s long history.
While the connection between lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights and environmental issues might not seem immediately obvious, one group called OUT for Sustainability wants LGBTs to be at the forefront of environmental sustainability issues.
Set up in 2009, OUT for Sustainability aims to engage and mobilize the LGBT community so as to inspire them to get involved with environmentalism through education events and group projects while urging people, LGBTs and their straight allies alike, to be their own “change-makers” on both social and environmental issues.
From the OUT for Sustainability website:
OUT for Sustainability engages and mobilizes the LGBTQ community to advance social and environmental sustainability.
We believe the LGBTQ community can be a leader in creating a thriving ecosystem for us all. Through events and education, we engage members of our community to become change-makers on social and environmental issues.
Through various programs, consulting and advocacy, we move our community to integrate social and environmental values into our individual lives, our local communities and our shared world.
As such, OUT for Sustainability held its second annual Earth Gay event on Sunday, which brought out Seattle’s LGBT community for several worthwhile environmental projects including urban farming with Alley Cat Acres on Beacon Hill, creating a neighborhood cleanup drive with ECOSS in South Park, garden planting with Kenyon House in Rainier Valley and habitat restoration with the Nature Consortium in West Seattle.
From the OUT for Sustainability press release:
“In partnership with Equal Rights Washington (ERW), the Environmental Coalition of South Seattle (ECOSS) and the Greater Seattle Business Association (GSBA), OUT for Sustainability’s Earth Gay includes an afternoon of service projects throughout the Seattle area, concluding with an evening celebration of the environment for the whole community, hosted by Havana.
Partnership is at the core of Earth Gay this year, as local organizations and businesses commit to both the environment and diversity. Sponsors include Seattle Works and the Pride Foundation. And in in addition to ERW, ECOSS and GSBA, other participants include Climate Solutions, The Boeing Company, Lifelong AIDS Alliance, Fuge.org, GrowFood.org, and the South Park Action Agenda…
Earth Gay is an opportunity to raise the visibility of the importance of environmentalism in the LGBT community,” said Gerod Rody, Executive Director of OUT for Sustainability. “Earth Gay is also an opportunity for the environmental community to see the leadership and commitment to environmentalism that comes from the LGBT community but often goes unrecognized. In future years we hope to expand Earth Gay statewide… When we think of Earth Day and Earth Gay we must think of conservation of wilderness areas, fighting environmental racism, clean water, air, soil and homes and reducing the scarring of the earth and its resources so that future generations might enjoy it.”
Speaking as an LGBT rights advocate as well as a sustainability enthusiast and a vegetarian, it is refreshing to see a group that emphasizes the intersect between global human rights issues and environmentalism through which one can combine what are two seemingly separate spheres of activism in a way that can empower and inform both.
It is also nice to see a group that challenges the often touted stereotype of the LGBT community being materialistic and self centered in its pursuit of equal rights. In fact, in an interview with the Seattle Times, the aforementioned Gerod Rody, Executive Director of OUT for Sustainability, reveals that his environmentalism is a multifaceted thing:
His faith plays a role, too. Rody was brought up as an evangelical Christian. He’s a Presbyterian now, but he’s always believed “one of the reasons I was brought into the world is to effect positive change.”
The sustainability movement is more than a subculture now, he said, and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) people are moving toward the mainstream. It felt like the right time to do some matchmaking.
There is a lot of diversity in the LGBT community. Rody’s demographic, gay men, like most of us, has a mixed reputation when it comes to sustainable living…
His idea isn’t to push for perfection, but “to affirm people in what they already do” and provide them opportunities to learn about other things they can do.
The short interview is an interesting and at times very entertaining read, so please do give it a look.
In addition to the Earth Gay event, OUT for Sustainability has, in the past, also provided tips on creating more environmentally friendly pride celebrations, has taken a look at local politics from both an LGBT rights and sustainability perspective, has supported AIDS and HIV fund-raising campaigns, and has several other ongoing grassroots initiatives in the works with the aim of spreading the OUT for Sustainability message.
Would you like to learn more? OUT for Sustainability is keen to create local chapters wherever there’s interest.
Connect with OUT for Sustainability:
ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING EARTH DAY:
HOW ARE ANIMALS AFFECTED?
THINGS TO PONDER
THOSE MAKING A DIFFERENCE
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