Community| 9 min read

With You: LGBTQ+ Community Spotlight

We catch up with members of the LGBTQ+ community to talk environmentalism and what makes them feel like themselves.
WRITTEN BY Hannah Prince

As we continue our celebration of Pride here on the Environmentor, it’s important to us that we leverage our platform to support the equality, visibility, and self-affirmation of people in the LGBTQIA+ community. Our uniqueness as individuals is powerful and we’re here to amplify it. If you haven’t seen it already, check out our With You campaign and our pledge to support the planet and all its people. We hope we can inspire and bring joy to people in the LGBTQ+ community, while also helping educate non-community members who want to be good allies.

With this in mind, let’s pass it over to our community. We were excited to have the opportunity to chat with different LGBTQIA+ creatives and get to know them better. Consider yourself warned, some major inspiration is coming your way. Through these conversations, we learned more about their unique experiences, the moments that make them feel most themselves, and their thoughts on environmentalism. Check out their stories below.

 

Nick Lehmann / @nicklehmann

 

man laughing

 

Q: For those who don’t know you, we’d love for you to introduce yourself.

Hi! My name is Nick Lehmann. I am a TV writer, actor, and comedian. I’m the most annoying person in the room, but for some reason, you might find yourself conflicted when we end up really getting along?! Weird how that works. You’ll find me usually going off on a humorous bit to pull you in and then you’ll see I’m actually a really lovely, caring person who just wants to get to know you! I’ve worked in the entertainment industry for years and use my writing and performing to make any person’s day better. I just want to make people laugh. Or cry (the good kind). I love a crier!

 

Q: Describe a moment when you felt the most like “you.”

I remember the first time I surrounded myself with a large group of queer people. We had a night out on the town during Pride many years back, and I remember feeling a certain sense of confidence, warmth, and comfort that I had never felt before. Very much felt like, “Oh, so this is what really living authentically feels like.” I’ve surrounded myself with more and more gay people since then. As if it’s an activity. Have I mentioned I love being gay?

 

Q: What makes you feel supported?

Family and friends. There’s no question that I’ve had an unlimited amount of support since the day I came out when I was 16. I’m incredibly lucky to have been surrounded by people who wanted what was best for me and wanted for me to live as my authentic self. For anyone who struggles with feeling supported – it’s always going to be the people who you surround yourself with that make you feel like the best you. Cut out any person who doesn’t feel like you can be yourself around them. There are plenty of others out there who want that for you and will actively lift you up in doing so.

 

Q: How do you think being an LGBTQIA+ person affects the way you experience the outdoors and environmentalism?

Gay people love the outdoors. It’s a fact. It’s actually written into the Earth somewhere; I’m pretty sure. Maybe don’t quote me on that. I love hanging out with my queer friends outdoors, going camping, hitting a hike, dancing around a park, etc. It’s easiest to feel open, free, and alive (all things we queer people LOVE to do) when outdoors. Nature provides an endless, beautiful playground for fun – and that’s the perfect place the LGBTQIA+ community thrives in. I’m writing this just after having gone on an hour-long walk outside blasting some music, shimmying here and there down the streets. Sure, I’m certain I scared a few people, but I was having a blast. Can’t wait to do it again this afternoon

 

Sergio / Evora Baden / @beingbaden

 

Two-Sprit Creative Magician and Drag Queen

 

Q: For those who don’t know you, we’d love for you to introduce yourself.

Hi, my name is Sergio / Evora. I am a Queer, LatinX, Two-Sprit Creative Magician, and Drag Queen

 

Q: Describe a moment when you felt the most like “you.”

Every time I put on high-waisted pants and a heeled boot. There is something about the elevation and the high waistline that makes me feel like I’m strutting a runway and living my fantasy of being able to be this embodiment of both masculine and feminine.

 

Q: What makes you feel supported?

This is easy – my friends and family. I have such an amazing crew that not only supports me but allows me to grow. They are constantly creating spaces, places, and conversations for the spectrum of the rainbow to be celebrated. I know it is a privilege to say this as so many queer folx don’t have that support system and sometimes even within our own community. So if you are reading this and you feel as such, what I want you to know is that I support you and your beauty. Reach out; we will happily create space for you.

 

Q: How do you think being an LGBTQIA+ person affects the way you experience the outdoors and environmentalism?

You can’t talk about nature or the environment without diversity. There is not a more diverse community on the planet than our community. We touch every race, gender, creed, and culture. We are truly everywhere.

As a queer person within the outdoors and in environmentalism, who we are as a community is just how mother nature intended — diverse, inclusive, and cooperative. When I step into nature, there is a profound understanding that I am a part of the whole, a working ecosystem. I take it as my job to honor all of those other beings and creatures that exist in the larger picture and see how my impact will affect others. We are not singular beings and the more I can be vocal and aware of others then the more we can work together.

 

Gabi and Shanna / @27travels

 

women laughing

 

Q: For those who don’t know you, we’d love for you to introduce yourself.

Hi! We are Gabi & Shanna, a lesbian travel couple based in Brooklyn, NY. Our goal has always been to showcase what it’s like to travel the world as a same-sex couple, which is what we have been doing for the last five years!

 

Q: Describe a moment when you felt the most like “you.”

We are lucky enough now to always feel comfortable in who we are, but it wasn’t always that way. Growing up, we both didn’t have any femme lesbian representation in the media. When we first starting coming out it was hard to figure out exactly who we were because we never saw any who looked like us or acted like us. That’s why we want to be a visible lesbian couple now, so people who are growing up will have that representation if they need it!

 

Q: What makes you feel supported?

Our online LGBTQ+ community! Both of us didn’t have a lot of queer friends growing up, but because of social media, we are able to talk to and even meet other LGBTQ+ people from all over the world! We talk to these people every day, and we always know they are there for us, no matter how far the distance may be.

 

Q: How do you think being an LGBTQIA+ person affects the way you experience the outdoors and environmentalism?

Yes. We sometimes don’t feel 100% comfortable showing that we are in a relationship in public. It depends on the place of course, but that has definitely factored into how we experience certain things. Sometimes we feel like we can’t be our true selves in public because we want to make sure we are safe first and foremost. But we have been traveling the world for five years, and most of the people we’ve met on our trips have been super nice, friendly, and welcoming! We feel so lucky that we have been able to explore the world and we can’t wait to keep exploring it safely!

 

Jason Kwan / @jasonkwanmusic

 

glam rock singer-songwriter

 

Q: For those who don’t know you, we’d love for you to introduce yourself.

Hi everyone! I’m Jason Kwan, your queer, non-binary genie, glam rock singer-songwriter, model, and LGBTQ+ youth worker. Originally from Hong Kong, I now live in East London, writing broody dark pop songs centering around queer-Asian experiences. I also work at akt, a LGBTQ+ charity supporting young people experiencing homelessness in the UK.

 

Q: Describe a moment when you felt the most like “you.”

Performing at my Southbank Underbelly Show in September 2019, wearing my design of a traditional Chinese robe turned into a crop garment with epic sleeves. My mom flew over to London from Hong Kong just to see me perform! For me to be unapologetically myself, queer, and performing my music for my mom and the world was all I ever wanted.

 

Q: What makes you feel supported?

My chosen family in London. I am part of an amazing pan-Asian, and gender-inclusive cabaret collective called The Bitten Peach (@bittenpeachuk). With The Bitten Peach, we produce shows that platform Asian performers from all walks of life, give them opportunities to enter the industry, mentor their art and growth, and provide safe spaces for performers to be understood and to be themselves.

 

Q: How do you think being an LGBTQIA+ person affects the way you experience the outdoors and environmentalism?

I think being a queer, non-binary person makes me quite aware of my environment all the time. I am constantly thinking about how I fit into this world and what my contributions to this world are. Being a musician, I think a lot about the effects of my words, melodies, outfits, and performances, and that definitely impacts how I lead my day-to-day life. Looking after our world and our environment takes priority for me, and I have a social responsibility to care for the environment that has allowed me to grow, blossom, and become the proud, visible, queer British Hong Konger I am today.

 

AK MacKellar / @ak.mackellar

 

woman outside

 

Q: For those who don’t know you, we’d love for you to introduce yourself.

Hey yall! I’m AK (they/them), the founder of Free To Move, a passionate queer and non-binary entrepreneur, speaker, and chronic illness advocate. I’m a certified personal trainer and fitness coach, with a passion for inclusive movement. I also know first-hand how alienating the world of fitness can be, which is why I created Free To Move. I’m passionate about community building, inclusivity, and creating a radical, non-diet wellness space for LGBTQ+. When I’m not leading mood-boosting movement classes, or brainstorming the next radical wellness workshop, I love to spend all day riding my mountain bike with friends, adventuring with my partner and rescue pup, Ru, and searching the city for the best espresso!

 

Q: Describe a moment when you felt the most like “you.”

I love community, getting outside, and also planning/organization (is this a weird combo? idk) so prior to COVID, I organized an outdoor weekend for women, trans and non-binary folks to camp, hang out, and try mountain biking in a safe, and non-judgemental environment. It was one of my favourite weekends of summer, also a lot of work but so glad I did it. It felt awesome to share my passion for biking and create more W/T/NB riders in a very cis-male-dominated sport.

 

Q: What makes you feel supported?

Community. Feeling seen in my queer and trans identity. Non-judgemental spaces. Giving as much as I can to others makes my heart swell.

 

Q: How do you think being an LGBTQIA+ person affects the way you experience the outdoors and environmental-ism?

I often think about this and it’s a bit of a paradox, as queer people have been getting outdoors, camping, hiking to a long time, especially to feel safe in their own communities. However, it’s not often represented in media, so there is a disconnect between who we believe to be outdoorsy and who is out there. We’re out here, just not always in the most obvious ways. It’s vital to our healing, to our community, and to our youth that we have safe spaces to access the outdoors, as well as the resources to do so. This becomes even more of a nuanced conversation when other marginalized identities intersect with queerness, such as race, class, disability, and more. These are often barriers to accessing the outdoors, that others may not experience or even be aware of. The more diversity we see of folks represented and getting outside, the more resources we can share with others to help them access the outdoors, the better it is for everyone.

 

We’re so grateful to everyone in our community who took the time to talk with us. As simple as it sounds being yourself can be a lot of work and you make it look effortless. We’re definitely inspired to show up as authentically and genuinely as you do.

If these conversations left you inspired, be sure to check out With You: Environmental-ish Confessions ft. Pattie Gonia. Pattie Gonia is a fabulous queer environmentalist and photographer who’s bringing drag and diversity outdoors.

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