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Well, it looks like Pattie Gonia's agent is working hard for their money, first Pattie was prancing around meadows in full drag for North Face's summer pride hiking events alert, now Pattie brings the spoken word song Birds Tell Us for the National Audubon Society. For those not in the know, the society protects birds and the places they need, throughout the Americas "using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation."
So, they figured "intersectional environmentalist Pattie Gonia" would be a good match to play bird in the meadows in full drag again, as nothing says preserve nature as a shit tonne of makeup and acrylic nails.
But wait, it's not quite as far-fetched as you may think, Pattie Gonia is the character created by avid hiker and backpacker Wyn Wiley. Wiley claims that the character was born spontaneously on a hiking trip several years ago - quite possibly exactly like those hilarious in-jokes I create while hiking at 7900 feet above sea level that never quite work once I get back down to higher oxygen air - and has now morphed into "ka-ching" performance during Pride month.
I will give Wyn and the National Audubon Society team kudos for this though; the Nebraska local textile artists and fashion designers Lesley Darling and Joelle Tangen created a Western Meadowlark dress almost entirely sourced from Nebraska raw materials, including the black walnuts and marigolds used to dye the silk black and yellow. Every bit of fabric was either used in the dress or repurposed into other objects, like scarves and handkerchiefs.
A random viewer won't know this though, all they see is a man in an ill-fitting corset with makeup blended as poorly as mine was in the 90s when I used literal baby powder as powder, trying to do a hypnotic and educating Baz Luhrmann, with a lot of environmentally unsound claptrappings. Like micro-plastics in glitter, those acrylic nails, and false eyelashes.
In short, it doesn't even look like a duck while it tries to educate us about birds and drum up LGBTQ support for the National Audubon Society.
Quote from Pattie Gonia aka Wyn Wiley:
“People ask me all the time, ‘how are the queer and environmental movements related’. I say, first, ‘no planet, no Pride!’ Second, there’s such an opportunity for people so versed in social justice, like the queer community, to join into the environmental movement. Similarly, there’s an equal opportunity for people versed in climate justice to help advocate for queer people. Why not take these two communities and work to cross pollinate them?”
“The traditional narrative if you’re queer is to run to big cities for acceptance, and oftentimes I think that creates a severed connection to nature, so I hope that queer people take away that they are part of nature and the outdoors. And I think that it’s a necessary step for organizations like Audubon to lead the way and show others, ‘hey, this is what it looks like to diversify outdoor and environmental spaces.’
“I am so inspired by birds. Everyday birds tell us that climate change is happening through their songs and through the songs they no longer can sing due to habitat and species loss. So- are we going to choose to listen or not?”
Audubon has celebrated Pride month since 2018 with LGBTQ-themed “Let’s Go Birding Together” bird walks, as well as other events including a “bird drag tutorial.” Audubon is committed to ensuring that all communities, including people of color and the LGBTQ community, have access to safe, welcoming outdoor spaces.
“I feel like a proud papa – seeing “Let’s Go Birding Together” take off nationally in so many ways,” said Jason St. Sauver, the program’s creator. “From its first beginnings at Spring Creek Prairie Audubon Center in 2016, to reaching thousands through our collaboration with Pattie Gonia, it is great to see such a queer space being created outdoors for so many,”
The series of four videos was recorded at Audubon’s Spring Creek Prairie Center, in Wiley’s home state of Nebraska. The center is also headquarters for Let’s Go Birding Together creator Jason St. Sauver.