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Episode Sixteen — A Queer Response to Climate Change

Marvin Bloom is back this time with an answer to the question, What is a Queer Response to Climate Change? He looks back to the HIV/AIDS Crisis and the many ways LGBTQ people Acted Up; he also highlights at how the movement did not serve everyone who suffered and why that may be important to remember when looking at our current climate crisis. As always Marvin is quirky, funny, revealing, informative, wise, oh, and a wise ass. We also learn about some major trouble makers, yes, the polar bears. Seems the cherished poster mammal of the climate movement has been acting up and hooking up. Finally, Timothy Meadows tells us about the amazing work of LGBTQ climate activist, Marisol Jimenez. Climate Stew is available on  iTunes,  StitcherSoundCloud, or Listen here  on our site. Oh, and we love your comments.

Links

Music

 

The Dodo Bird. So Queer

The Dodo Bird. So Queer

Transcript

Opening

Yes, it is time for another episode of Climate Stew. This week, we have gone queer, well, queerer. Marvin Bloom is back and considers the questions, What is a Queer Response to Climate Change. We also learn about the amazing climate action work that Marisol Jimenez will do over the next 50 years. But first, the news.

News

Run-ins with Polar Bears

From the Climate Stew News Desk comes this special report. Marauding bands of outsiders are disrupting the peace of tranquil quaint villages, making noise, making a mess, and eating everything in sight. Not to mention their late night freaky-deaky sex parties with the locals. Who are these interlopers? Frat boys descended on a rural college town? British holiday hooligans in Spain? Or could it be the darlings of the Environmentalist Movement run amok?

Well, actually all three, but we are going to focus on the environmentalist darlings. Polar Bears, the privileged poster mammal of the environmental movement, often portrayed as helpless victims adrift on ice flows, are proving to be adaptable in the face of a shrinking habitat. With shorter winters and less ice-covered terrain these ferocious bears are beginning to move more and more south closer and closer to human habitation. The largest carnivore on the planet is creeping dangerously near to Inuit villages in the Hudson Bay, Manitoba, a place where since the 1980’s First Nation people living close to the land have noticed changes in the climate and how ice forms.

Polar Bear eating Beluga Whale

Polar Bear eating Beluga Whale

The recent visits from polar bears is a new thing though. Unwanted clashes between humans and polar bears are on the rise. According to Clément Sabourin writing for AFP News, “In the Nunavut hamlet of Taloyoak, six intrepid polar bears had to be put down in the past three months after wandering into the community.”

One of many polar bear alert warning signs posted inside the town of Churchill, Manitoba, Canada

One of many polar bear alert warning signs posted inside the town of Churchill, Manitoba, Canada. AFP/AFP/File Paul J Richards

In addition to the potential dangers posed by polar bears prowling for meals, with weak ice sheets breaking up under foot, Inuit hunters are more and more moving inland to kill caribou instead of their traditional prey of seals and beluga whales.

Polar-Bear-and-Grizzly-Hybrid-Nickolay-Lamm

Polar and Grizzly Hybrid. credit: Nickolay Lamm

 

As hungry polar bears migrate south, they are also mingling with the local grizzly bear population, hooking up and creating hybrid off-spring known as prizzly bears or grolar bears. Now while a tourist boom is often seen as a good thing, those who live in tourist towns know that some visitors are simply not welcome guests.

Main

Marvin Bloom, a Queer response to Climate Change

music: Boogie Belgique from Blueberry Hill LP Drop Out

Hi, my name is Marvin, Marvin Bloom, my partner Tristan O’Brien and I are the co-leaders of the Long Island branch of the Citizens Climate Brigade.

The only known photo of Marvin Bloom

The only known photo of Marvin Bloom

Tristan and I are gay—hello, but actually we are even more queer than that. Tristan doesn’t mind me saying, because he is super out about it himself, that he is transgender, oh and he’s Caribbean-American, his family is from Jamaica. He was raised female but came out male and transitioned like six years ago. Which doesn’t mean you should feel free to ask inappropriate questions about his body, thank you very much. No we are two gay guys with a very interesting past—I once  went ex-gay for many years trying to de-gay myself through Jesus, don’t ask, until I finally re-gayed.

Tristan and I have been looking at various queer responses to climate change. I mean global warming is queer—the possibility that humans will be ejected from the planet because of the pollution we have been spewing—that’s queer, its odd, its not something we can easily wrap our heads around. But you know LGBTQ people have faced possible extinctions and exterminations before. I mean Nazi Germany, they didn’t only go after my people, the Jews, they also targeted people with disabilities, Jehovah Witnesses, oh and the homosexual. Gay men were harassed, arrested, incarcerated, and even castrated.

Pink Triangle to designate homosexual prisoners in concentration camps

Pink Triangle to designate homosexual prisoners in concentration camps

Then there was the 1980’s and the plague first known as GRID, the Gay Related Immune Deficiency or gay cancer or God’s Punishment Against Homosexuals and eventually HIV/AIDS. You had a government that refused to acknowledge there was a problem, a president, Reagan, who wouldn’t talk about it, a public that was hostile, afraid and growing more hostile, and all the time people were suffering and dying. So in short order my ancestors (I was too young then) had to act up, lobby the government, change public perception, educate themselves about science and healthcare, and take care of each other.

And even today alright LGBTQ people are targeted by governments, imprisoned and even execution. We are also witnessing an awful epidemic of violence against transgender people, particularly transgender women of color. No, we know a thing or two about possible extinctions and exterminations.

As a result, through the years we have had to develop strategies to survive, to speak out, to organize, to dream of a better future. These same strategies are needed right now to save the heterosexuals well and the rest of us from global warming, which isn’t just about science but about public safety, peace and political stability, social justice, oh, and chocolate as an endangered species. Which is alarming!

ACTUP

HIV/AIDS services for women in prison. Justice Now!!! Verso: ACT UP. (Poster, NYPL Digital Collection)

There was something else we learned though from the HIV/AIDS crisis. Everyone with AIDS suffered, but not equally. I mean there was a 100% fatality rate—everyone died at first, but not the same way. Some people suffered less because they had decent health care, they had some money and the privilege that comes from being middle class and/or white. They suffered no doubt, but for those who were poor, who were Black and Latino, who were considered less-than by society, well they suffered all the more.

The existing prejudices and injustices they faced only got worse. Yeah, everyone who had AIDS—white, Black, rich, poor, gay, trans, straight, whatever, were all in the same boat together, but like any large passenger ship, you have different levels, different classes of travelers. They all reached the same destination in the end, but some suffered more in steerage class.

And to me that is a queer response to climate change, recognizing that climate change is racist and classist, well not climate change itself, but the world it affects.  Therefore, we need to consider ways of addressing the climate crisis while also having as many different types of people as possible in the discussion. Because why save the planet if we are going to just maintain the same crap we have been doing to each other for hundreds of years? Oh and Tristan wants me to add that we should also ban meat consumption, whatever, but that’s another story.

That Day in Climate History

I am Timothy Meadows, it is Saturday, January 5th 2165 and time for That Day in Climate History. By the early 21st century scientists agreed that climate change had already begun and human pollution fueled it, but most leaders dragged their feet and refused to act. As a result, many grassroots organizations formed to put pressure on governments.

Inspired by the creative, relentless, and highly effective work of HIV/AIDS activists 35 years previously, Marisol Jimenez began to apply some of the same methods to the Climate Crisis. Originally from Juarez, Mexico, she lived in El Paso, Texas and worked as a high school science teacher. In November 2015 she founded “Act Up for Climate.” She began by lobbying, then educating local leaders in the queer, transgender, bisexual, lesbian, and gay Civil Rights Movements, revealing how the climate crisis was already affecting the most vulnerable in their community and beyond.

Then working in solidarity with migrant workers, ranchers, faith leaders, healthcare providers, and queer people in the military and law enforcement, Marisol Jimenez and Act Up for Climate began staging dramatic and playful public actions to draw attention to the Climate Crisis. They used giant puppets, elaborate costumes, and highly choreographed marches. They also put pressure on lawmakers—creatively disrupting congressional sessions and setting up pop-up town hall meetings, always with a clear message and the specific demand for leaders to prepare for the needs of the public on a changing planet. Act Up for Climate along with many other groups also demanded a radical reduction of air pollution including the successful campaign that polluters pay a fee whenever they extracted fossil fuels. This of course eventually led to a dramatic increase of energy costs thus kickstarting the Great Transition from dirty to clean energy. Like the Citizens Climate Lobby, Act Up for Climate stressed that the money collected from polluters needed to go to households to help with the rising energy costs.

For 50 years, first demanding climate action and then assisting with the Great Transition efforts and disaster relief, Marisol Jimenez, fueled with urgency, anger, and hope infused the work of Act Up for Climate with humor and celebration. In 2068 Marisol Jimenez, nearly 80 years old, died peacefully in her home with her wife, Cynthia Espada by her side.  In the last statement on her public page she wrote: “Yes, friends, there is always work ahead, but I see the world is better off today than when we started so long ago, and oh, didn’t we have so much fun together acting up?” On This Day in 2165, we remember that day in Climate History.

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Closing

Thank you for listening to this very queer episode of Climate Stew, oh and happy new year. In February I will present at various locations in Denver, Boulder, and beyond. I’ll travel with Marvin Bloom, Timothy Meadows, Elizabeth Jeremiah. Together we are now ready to do LIVE Climate Stew show. Let us know if you are interested in hosting an event. You can find a full transcript of today’s program along with lots of links about Polar Bears, Queer Responses to Climate Change and more over at Climate Stew dot com. Our opening music is by Mark Chadwick, closing music by Poldoore. Our segment music is from Sean Pope and Boogie Belgique. Special Thanks to Glen Retief, Keisha McKensie, Oh, and Joe G, who in my gay world is seen as a hybrid of a bear and a fairy podmother.

Peterson Toscano

Author: Peterson Toscano

Peterson Toscano is a quirky queer Quaker concerned about Climate Change. His website is www.petersontoscano.com

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