Cultivating Community: How Pattie Gonia is Shaping a More Inclusive Climate Movement

June 1st, 2024
Reading time: 4 minutes

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Photo credit: Samuel Crossley
Copyright: © 2022 Samuel Crossley Media, LLC

Pattie Gonia isn’t a typical environmental activist. This electrifying drag queen is taking the climate movement by storm, all while rocking fabulous wigs and sequined gowns. Beneath the dazzling persona is Wyn Wiley, a passionate environmentalist who’s redefining what it means to be an advocate for the planet.

Wyn’s journey to activism started with a love for the outdoors that blossomed in their hometown of Lincoln, Nebraska. They weren’t just drawn to nature’s beauty; they found a sense of belonging and solace on the trails and mountaintops. This passion translated into a successful career as a photographer, capturing the raw essence of the natural world. However, witnessing the planet’s environmental challenges—deforestation, pollution, climate change—ignited a passion within Wyn. They wanted to use their voice and platform to make a difference, but the traditional environmental movement often felt exclusionary.

In early 2018, Wyn explored the world of drag for the first time. Taking the stage name “Ginger Snap”—a playful nod to their fiery red hair and photography profession—they discovered a powerful outlet for self-expression. This exploration of identity planted a seed, leading to the birth of Pattie Gonia.

With a name playfully referencing the outdoor apparel brand Patagonia, Pattie Gonia became the perfect vessel for Wyn’s message. This sensational alter ego strutted through nature trails in high heels, a dazzling contradiction that challenged stereotypes about who belonged in the environmental movement. Their social media presence exploded with photos and videos showcasing the beauty of nature alongside powerful calls to action on climate change. The first video, as Pattie Gonia posted on October 3rd, garnered a staggering 100 million views—a testament to the captivating nature of their message.

Pattie Gonia’s activism extends far beyond eye-catching visuals. They co-founded The Outdoorist Oath, a non-profit dedicated to fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion within the environmental space to get BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and femmes into the outdoors. Pattie is building a community where everyone feels welcome to fight for the planet, regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation, or background.

Their activism isn’t limited to online spaces. Pattie organizes hikes and outdoor gatherings for LGBTQIA+ individuals and allies, creating a safe space for nature lovers to connect and take action. They’ve even championed sustainable drag fashion, proving that environmental consciousness can be glamorous, too.

Pattie Gonia’s impact is undeniable. They’ve graced the halls of the White House, filmed a climate music video with Yo-Yo Ma and Indigenous trans musician Quinn Christopherson, and inspired countless people to embrace their unique talents in the fight for a sustainable future. Their message is simple: the climate movement needs everyone, and there’s no one-size-fits-all way to be an activist. After all, as Pattie Gonia reminds everyone, “the minute you take your identity and what you are good at and apply it to what you care about, the world will never be the same.”

Iyon Baker Headshot
Iyon Baker

Iyon is a curious, creative NC native and Chapel Hill alum who is always eager to embark on new adventures that provide more skills. With a background in advertising, public relations, digital marketing, and fine arts, she uses her skills for copywriting and brand storytelling. Her professional journey has led her to diverse projects that taught her to embrace challenges and adapt to any situation. In her leisure time, Iyon enjoys gardening, knitting, and traveling.

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