Queer Nature

“I didn’t have much guidance or mentorship to help me navigate and make sense of my relationships with the more-than-human world, access socially accepted avenues for nature connection, or contextualize these relationships into any sort of cultural heritage or framework. I also started to experience parallel realities with entities that I later understood to be ancestors or what Europeans might call genius loci, spirits of places.

I feel a lot of the pain of the earth, but more specifically, the pain that lives in places. This pain can manifest in different ways, through neglect of beings (human and nonhuman) and their histories, or by demonizing certain beings, or seeing them only for their economic or aesthetic value, or through pollution and deforestation. I tried to figure it out on my own and kept getting pathologized for my ways of being in the world. This included my gender identity and sexuality. I found mentors in the more-than-human world, but when I shared these experiences with adults, they grew concerned and thought I was experiencing hallucinations. [This is a] clinical term that can pathologize visions, which in some cultural contexts could be normal and necessary.

It felt like the psychiatric and medical world wanted to privatize and isolate these monumental feelings I was having, placing the onus on me to change, instead of society.

I love the term animism, and I relate to it deeply, but I don’t love that some people seem to be able to explore it freely while others don’t or can’t. In order for us to fully experience the magic of seeing the world as alive and full of personhood and soul, we must be able to fully see the personhood and dignity in our fellow humans, across differences of ability, class, race, and gender, and through the beautiful prism of difference, because that is what our bodies of experience are – they are gems that refract light in diverse and enchanting ways. It is not until this that we will truly be animists.”

~ Pinar Ates Sinopoulos-Lloyd (IG @queerquechua); fromWhen Seeing the World as Alive is called Madnessfeatured in the new book ‘Nature is a Human Right’ (DK Press)

“Tracking, for me, has become a practice of devotion to the world, a pastoral ritual of listening during times marked with ecological fracture and loss, and a portal to the possibility of science as a local and community practice.

Let us not be neutral. Let us imagine what would be possible if more of us considered the possibility that we could be natural historians ~ which is really another work for ‘tracker’. Natural historians who don’t see culture as separate from nature. Natural historians who track trauma in the body and trauma on the land too. Natural historians who know that multi-species and trans biological relationships are a normative part of human social and emotional worlds. Natural historians who learn from living beings and our adoration of them as much as, or even more than from books (and yes, looking through a microscope counts as adoration!), and who know that without variation and diversity, life would not go on.”

~ So Sinopoulos-Lloyd (IG @cyberpunkecology); from “Restor(y)ing Place: Tracking and the Necessity of Ecological Intimacy” featured in the new book ‘Nature is a Human Right’ (DK Press)

 

These essays in their entirety are best paired together, much like the tender and tenacious bond that this trans couple curates through their brilliant collaborations at Queer Nature.
From the Queer Nature website: ‘Queer Nature is an education and social sculpture project based in the Northwestern U.S. and Intermountain West that actively dreams into decolonially-informed queer ‘ancestral futurism’ through mentorship in place-based skills with awareness of post-industrial/globalized/ecocidal contexts. Place-based skills include naturalist studies/interpretaion, handcrafts, “survival skills,” and recognition of colonial and indigenous histories of land, and are framed in a container that emphasizes deep listening and relationship building with living and non-living earth systems. Co-envisioned by Pinar and So Sinopoulos-Lloyd, Queer Nature designs and facilitates nature-based workshops and multi-day immersions designed specifically for LGBTQ2+ people (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, Two-Spirit) and QTBIPOCs (queer and trans black and indigenous people of color). Queer Nature carries the story and hope that these spaces create new narratives of belonging for folks who have often been made to feel by systems of oppression that they biologically, socially, or culturally don’t belong.

Of all the nature writing that is available, these two-as-one captivate and move me the deepest and hum for such strength and mystic wisdom within and between and around their / this world(s) through their devotion of observation and sense of nature. At any social gathering or campaign meeting regarding local land relationships, I sing about the work that is woven at Queer Nature because what they offer is critical for current considerations and sooth’d like a balm.

It was through their writing that I found the most healing and relate-ability over the past two years of discovery. It was through them that I felt not only validated in what I always sensed and knew but denied; a vibrant encouragement towards an innermost sense of belonging & otherness; could feel comfortable in the communal uplift of one who has experienced immense and dimension-splitting struggles with mental health through the suppression of incredible sensitivity and the clinical labels assigned to destroy spiritual pathways; and that largely, we all deserve to take up space in areas that are otherwise dominated by separatist / racist / socially binary constructs.