First It Was HIV. Now It’s Climate Change. LGBTQs Unite to Save Planet Earth

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FORT LAUDERDALE—There’s an old saying that suggests that we won’t be saddled with more than we can handle.  Go back far enough, and you’ll find it in 1 Corinthians 10:13.

Fortunately, the LGBTQ community only has to look back a few decades to remember when the “gay scourge” of HIV dropped down upon us as if to test our tenacity to survive. Gays were in the sights of a sniper rifle that seemed pointed with laser accuracy at every one of us. Yup, that HIV virus was a tough sucker, alright. But, not as tough as the LGBTQ community which not only sprung into action to combat the disease, it bonded us together to become stronger than ever.

Yet, we hardly had time to grab our beach towels to catch some sun and a bit of deserved R & R when we were hit with the next wave of smiting from heaven—climate change. You didn’t have to be gay to know that when the ocean can’t remember the meaning of sea level, flooding roads and Trump’s sacred Mar a Lago Resort, for crying out loud, that Mother Earth is trying to get our attention.

Of course, to believe our President during a bitter December a few years in DC, we could all use some “good old Global Warming.” This is the same President that brags that U.S. air quality is “the cleanest it’s ever been” when actually CO2 pollution in this country is rising at record rates. And for all his talk about border walls, the President has failed to look up toward the clouds and realize that the sky has no borders.

The dirtiest air in the world, currently found in India, could pay us a visit at any time. It could catch a free ride on some tropical air flow, or be helped along by some Arkansas tornadoes. It’s the reason climate change is called “Global warming”—it is everywhere, and it is killing us.

All of which brings us back to the LGBTQ community—a group that originally united itself around death during the start of the AIDS epidemic. Who better to go right back to war to save our very planet itself. We are not only constantly prepared for battle, but the LGBTQ community is also the most susceptible to climate change.

Think about it. Over 40% of homeless youth, many living on the street, have identified as LGBTQ. And while the total amounts to less than seven percent of the population, these teens who have been tossed out of their homes by their parents because of their sexual orientation, typically head to the East and West coasts, where the weather is typically fairer. In typical misery loves company style, LGBTQ teens hang together in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles, and New Orleans—cities that are at the greatest risk for storm surges as sea levels rise.

Transgender people of all races and nationalities are the most likely to be excluded from mainstream housing and jobs, and face the constant threat of violence on the streets.  They too tend to collect in coastal cities where gay clubs provide jobs and a hashtag semblance of community. Yet, while these two groups are the easiest to target as outcasts, every member of the LGBTQ community has discovered that there is more than just safety in numbers. We have converged together from every outpost and disparate culture imaginable.

United in liberation, and blessed with an abundance of talent, intelligence, determination, and, lest we forget, an innate fashion sense, the LGBTQ community has pushed itself to the front lines in the battle to save Mother Earth herself. As the HIV epidemic, same-sex marriage, and our fight for transgender bathrooms have proven, we will not be silenced until our work is done.

 

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🌱 Audio Series Update 🌱 Last week, we recorded the first episode of In Conversation exploring the intersections of queer and trans liberation and climate justice 🏳️‍🌈🌍 • We held space for deep vulnerable conversation about our experiences as queer and trans people in the climate movement and spoke about our collective struggles for liberation from California to Botswana. We dialogued across borders, across generations, across time and space. We shared our visions for a movement rooted in queer and trans solutions to the climate crises we face; solutions that uplift community and chosen family embodiment of unconditional love, support, and resiliency. We’re so grateful for our 5 guests (tagged in photo) who took the time to be in space with us and share their knowledge and wisdom ✊🏾🌺. • Sign up at http://eepurl.com/b6h56b to be the first to know when the episode is released! • This recording is a preview of our interview with @palexbr that inspired this listening series & will be published later this spring.

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The actions in Washington, DC, by the current administration to spur economic growth at all costs, including the health of an increasingly fragile and rapidly degrading environment, has been a wake-up call.  And not just to the LGBTQ community, but those major corporations who have joined the rallying cry, refusing to destroy our home for the sake of profit.

While it is not unusual for several LGBTQ organizations and activist groups to join together for a mutual cause, it is unheard of to have eleven such groups form a cohesive bond on a single mission. But such is the case as CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers, Believe Out Loud, Equality Federation, Family Equality Council, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), Immigration Equality, National Black Justice Coalition, National Center for Lesbian Rights, National LGBTQ Task Force, National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance, ad OutServe-SLDN all signed a statement against the current direction of the Trump administration on environmental protection.

Initially drawn to the issue by the nomination of anti-environmentalist Scott Pruitt to serve as head of the Environmental Protection Agency, these agencies were so appalled by the prospect that this gay-hating former Senator from Oklahoma would gain control of the EPA that they jointly wrote:

Every day we work to make life better for our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth—to help families understand and support them, and to build safe and supportive schools and communities. But we are also deeply concerned about the physical world LGBT young people, and all the nation’s young people, will be inheriting—potentially one with more extreme droughts, dangerous heat waves, destructive floods, deadly storms, frightening diseases, and disappearing coastal communities.

“If we do not take decisive action now, these changes will gravely threaten our communities’ health, economic security, and its very safety in the years to come. We are already seeing the effects today all around the country and the world. No one can look at the decisive science an enormous implication of climate change and say “this is not my issue.”

Unless, of course, you are the President of the United States. Since he has taken office, Donald Trump has failed to take the time to even read the Fourth National Climate Assessment, prepared by agencies of the U.S. government, predicting dire consequences if no action to help the planet is taken, saying only “I don’t believe it…”

It is hardly surprising. He is a man who says he has an “instinct for science.” Instinctively, Trump has pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement. (Read more about this decision.) He revoked the Clean Power Plan required the energy sector to cut carbon emissions by 32 percent. (Read more on why Trump can’t make coal great again.) He loosened regulations on toxic air pollution by corporations. (Read more about air pollution.) He also rescinded the methane flaring rules in place. (Read more about methane.)

Plus: He revoked the need to include flood standards when designing and constructing buildings. (Read more about how rising sea levels may imperil the internet.) He ordered an increase in logging on public lands. (Read more about California’s historic wildfires.) And perhaps most significantly he dropped climate change from his list of national security threats. (Read more about how climate change is forcing migration in Guatemala.)

The LGBTQ community has now organized its momentum to march, resist, declare, demand, inform, and fight through the courts to counter the damage. And who better? We are colorful enough to get noticed, loud enough to be heard, and determined enough to never take no for an answer.

“Climate change is likely the most serious issue facing all of us in the years ahead and right now,” the LGBTQ united organizations state. “We call on every single member of our communities to commit to civic action to prevent catastrophic climate change.” And they mean it.

Richard Hack

Richard Hack is an award-winning author and journalist; and an outspoken advocate for equality in business and government, as well as neutrality in news media.

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