As environmental professionals, we fight to protect diversity in ecosystems across the globe — from our seas to the soil to the sky. And as important as diversity is in our work, it is just as important in the people we work with.
Being a part of the LGBTQIA+ community while working in STEM is no easy feat. In honor of Pride Month, we wanted to share stories of LGBTQIA+ people in the environmental field who have inspired us. If you are a queer individual interested in working with nature, know that these people have paved the path to a more inclusive environmental field. But unfortunately, the work is far from over. If you would like to support LGBTQIA+ people in the environmental field, following these environmental heroes and learning more about their stories and struggles is a great place to start.
JD Reinbott (he/him)
JD Reinbott, an openly gay marine conservationist has worked as a coral restoration practitioner, boat captain, and dive instructor for 5+ years. In addition to his fieldwork, JD is also an open advocate for increasing diversity “above the ocean surface,” by bringing more BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ people into the environmental field. Although he grew up in a community that was accepting of his sexual identity, there was a resounding lack of queer role models for him to look up to. He hopes that his work to highlight diverse voices will give queer youth who are looking to enter the environmental field the chance to see that they can succeed in such a career while being their most authentic selves.
When he is not SCUBA diving in 6-inch stilettos, JD is working to create informative videos/posts on topics ranging from LGBTQIA+ allyship to tips on breaking into the marine science field. We featured Reinbott on the Environmental Professionals Radio in March! If you haven’t heard it yet, check it out here.
Pattie Gonia (they/them)
Pattie Gonia is a drag queen on a campaign to bring Pride to the environmentalist movement. On their Instagram, you can see them in full drag (heels and all!) rock climbing, hiking, and exploring.
Pattie Gonia is the founder of Outdoorist Oath, a nonprofit organization that seeks to educate people on being champions “for planet, inclusion, and adventure.” They also have created a job board for environmental and outdoor jobs that helps LGBTQIA+ people get jobs with employers that are accepting and supportive of every identity.
Cecilia Pineda (they/them)
Cecilia Pineda is a New York-based activist with many endeavors. They are the executive director of BK ROT, “NYC’s first bike-powered food waste hauling and composting service.” BK ROT’s team of youth has traveled a collective 4,500 miles across the city picking up 936,000 pounds of food waste for compost. Additionally, Pineda also founded RADIKO, a nonprofit foundation seeking to educate others on how they can contribute to the climate justice movement. RADIKO also fights for an inclusive climate movement that prioritizes helping those who are most affected by climate change. Through RADIKO, Pineda offers a workshop called “Appropriation of Climate Justice and Intersectionality by Mainstream Environmentalists: Challenges, Opportunities and Concerns,” which is available to the public.
Pineda also writes and produces music about their “ranchera roots,” climate injustice, and their experience being LGBTQIA+. You can listen to their music on Soundcloud and connect with them on Twitter or Instagram.
Isaias Hernandez (he/they)
Isaias Hernadez better known as the “Queer Brown Vegan,” is an environmental educator who uses their platform to break down environmental terms for his audience. Hernandez grew up in Section 8 housing and lived off food stamps; they experienced firsthand how climate change was affecting the socioeconomically underprivileged the most. After graduating from UC Berkeley with a B.S. in Environmental Science, he became the “Queer Brown Vegan” online, as he believes that environmental education should be available to everyone, not just who attend college. Now, Hernandez defines terms like food sovereignty, carbon footprint, white veganism, and more through blog posts, Instagram reels, and colorful graphics.
Hannah Malvin (she/her)
Hannah Malvin is the founder and director of Pride Outside and co-founder of the LGBTQ Outdoor Summit. She is also a coach and consultant focused on making work more equitable, effective, and enjoyable. In addition, Malvin is the program manager for The Bridge Program, a new public-private partnership and equitable hiring pathway for the environmental sector focused on people of color. She served as Senior Representative for Partnerships at The Wilderness Society, leading a strategic planning initiative to root relationships in equity by designing new systems of staff learning, knowledge sharing, and coordination. Finally, she was Legislative Assistant to Congressman Mike Doyle and Staff Director of the Congressional Autism Caucus.
If you’re looking to support environmentalists in the LGBTQIA+ community, or are looking for support yourself, check out these resources:
Supporting the LGBTQIA+ community as an environmentalist goes beyond highlighting their role models — it’s about going out of our way to uplift the next generation of LGBTQIA+ environmental engineers, scientists, activists, artists, and heroes.
If you’d like to learn more about how you can support these communities — not just during June, but year-round — check out these resources: