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Is nature queer? An introduction to Queer Ecology

Updated: Jun 15, 2021

According to Queer Ecology, yes.

This area of study looks into relationships that exist among species other than humans to demonstrate how queer relationships are naturally occurring. 'Queerness' refers to what is beyond social standards, what transgresses conventions, and might even be counterintuitive.

Queer Ecology, then, directly challenges the convention of heterosexuality as a 'standard', called heteronormativity, a harmful idea that still predominates in many cultures. In exploring the diversity of relationships that happen in nature, Queer Ecology also goes against binaries that persevere in the current understanding of the natural world.

"A queer nature is one that is messy. That doesn’t align with human narratives of balance or progress, that is infinitely possible, that allows us to be both right and wrong in the stories we tell about it. It doesn’t make sense, and it’s different for all of us." Priya Subberwal

The field of Queer Ecology is multidisciplinary as it encompasses biology, queer theory, feminist studies, environmental justice and many more. Special attention is paid to groups historically marginalized by society, who face most of the rejection as they open the way for greater social acceptance of diverse expressions of gender and sexualities. Queer Ecology takes on a critical approach as it calls for plural ways of being and interacting with others and nature, especially calling for greater inclusion of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of colour) within the LGBTQ2S+ community.

Some of the people who work with and study Queer Ecology include:

- Edgar Xochitl

- Rachel Stein

- Catriona Sandilands

- Giovanna di Chiro

References and additional reading

Catriona Sandilands. Queer Ecology in Keywords for environmental studies.

Priya Subberwal. Queer Ecology. The Years Project.

Alex Carr Johnson. Queer ecology resource page.

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