• Clean Water
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  • People for Puget Sound
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On September 30, Burien will celebrate its first Earth Gay event. Washington Conservation Action, Queers4Conservation, City of Burien, QPOC Hikers, Seattle Birds Connect, and Patagonia will co-host this inclusive celebration. Earth Gay is family-friendly and open to everyone, in particular LGBTQIA+ people and allies. 

People will gather from 10 a.m to 1 p.m. at Salmon Creek Ravine, Burien’s largest park. Activities will include a plant identification walk, a “bird sit” (bird watching while seated), litter pick up and pulling of weed species like ivy and blackberry. Gloves and tools will be provided.

“This is a safe space for people to gather out in nature, and to work to protect people and nature as one,” says Kat Holmes, field director for Washington Conservation Action. 

Queer people have historically been marginalized. Marginalized groups within the LGBTQIA+, such as black and brown trans people, are disproportionately affected by polluted air and water because of their closer proximity, statistically, to polluted highways, fewer green spaces, and polluted waterways. Prejudice and economic oppression often forces people to live in areas near factories or busy roads, where the risk of cancer, heart disease and respiratory issues is higher.

Queer ecology and conservation seeks to heal this by redefining what is normal and natural. Nature, after all, is not nearly as binary as some think. As many as 1,500 species have been observed to engage in same sex behavior, everything from damselflies to dolphins. Many species in nature call into question the either/or binary way of viewing gender. For instance, male cuttlefish and male marsh harriers camouflage themselves in female markings to avoid being attacked by other males.

“With all the divisiveness out in the world, it can sometimes be scary for members of the LGBTQIA+ community to be out in remote or rural areas,” says Holmes. “At Earth Gay, we can come together outside and help to make the world a better place.”

The Burien event follows a sold-out Tacoma Earth Gay gathering during July, Tacoma Pride month. During that event, 70 people teamed up to spread mulch, remove invasive species and pick up litter at Dickman Mill Park, on the Tacoma waterfront. 

“It was a great day to connect the LGBTQIA+ community back to the land,” says Tony Ivey, Washington Conservation Action’s political and civic engagement manager. “When LGBTQIA+ people volunteer, they’re not always sure if they can bring their full selves, if they can just be who they are. Earth Gay events are a great way to celebrate gay pride and to be out in nature.”

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