I moved to Seattle in 2014 with a mission: find (or build) the kind of community I had so dearly hoped for in San Francisco; queers as committed to environmental justice as we are to identity politics, to queering ecology and the discourse of environmentalism. SF was amazing in so many ways, but too often I felt an outcast, preoccupied with the sheer amount or plastic wastes after Pride and unable to enjoy the booze that accompanied them. I was more more green than rainbow.
It was September, the cusp of rain-soaked ‘SADD’ season in Seattle, and I had left one closet just to step in another. I had been able to come out as Queer and Trans* (I use They/Them pronouns) at work in California, where my job as an academic gave me validation and support. In Seattle, finding a queer-friendly ecology job was difficult, and I was forced to hide myself for a time. However, searching for a good job was just as tenuous for “straight” me, and I resolved to never hide for the sake of a paycheck.
As jobs were not forthcoming, I found myself with plenty of free time to find queer space. My search led me first to a Queer Burlesque company, then the ACLU, Gay City and a non-profit support org. With Companis, the road to OUT for Sustainability was quite simple: The wonderful folks there connected me to OUT4S President Gerod Rody, with whom I began to chat about the profound lack of datable queers in sustainability (#whereareallthesustyqueers). A few emails and phone calls later, and I found myself representing OUT4S at a huge sustainability conference, rubbing elbows with hundreds of amazing architects, materials salespeople, and designers, all organized by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI). Over cocktails and hors d’oveurs, I chatted about climate change, sustainable design and—of course—the fabulous mission of OUT4S. That mission, to “Mobilize the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community for environmental and social action,” hit home with many of the conference attendees, LGBTQ or not.
OUT4S is creating an amazing network of sustainability-minded LGBTQ folks, using our incredible queer lineage of community building and action in order to build a cleaner, healthier future, because Climate Change is a queer issue, too.
Now, after almost a year of work with OUT4S, I’m co-chair of the ADVANCE committee (with Board member Judi Brown) working to build our financial capacity via grant writing and funder outreach. I loved meeting people at the ILFI conference, and I’ve managed to turn my natural gift for conversation into a tool for finding interns, garnering financial support, and generally helping OUT4S grow. And I get to do it all while being my little fabulous queer self, working with a wonderful community of #sustyqueers.
– Mags Hines