Tory calls for a boycott of outdoor brand The North Face continued to grow after the retailer unveiled a Pride Month partnership with drag queen and environmentalist Pattie Gonia. The campaign, launched on Wednesday, promotes a summer-long Pride initiative that includes events in two cities and the release of a rainbow-themed capsule collection.
In an ad, the social media star, dressed in a colorful rainbow dress and surrounded by trees, happily proclaims that she, along with The North Face, is inviting everyone to “get out…into nature”. .
Pattie Gonia’s message that the outdoors is for everyone, including LGBTQ+ people, has resonated with a wider audience on line. Their content often features them frolicking in nature and focuses on messages of inclusion while raising awareness of the climate crisis and advocating for the protection of natural resources.
Predictably, right-wing lawmakers weighed in, with Republican congresswomen Lauren Boebert of Colorado and Marjorie Taylor-Green of Georgia post their support for the boycott on Twitter while citing false allegations and homophobic tropes.
In an interview with Grist, Pattie Gonia said climate action is intimately linked to the accessibility of the outdoors, which is why they partnered with The North Face in the first place.
“My theory of change is that we tell people that we want to fight for the climate all the time. But we’re not doing the most important step, which is to get out there and connect with the climate,” they said. “If we go out, we realize how beautiful nature is and how much it is worth saving.”
There is a link between attacks on the LGBTQ+ community and climate denial, said Cameron T. Whitley, associate professor of sociology at Western Washington University.
“The obvious connection between attacks on transgender and gender non-conforming people and those who downplay the climate crisis is that they both largely emerged from the Republican Party,” Whitley said. “However, this connection is neither natural nor inevitable – it reflects a historical and strategic effort to marry the GOP and its economic interests to the Christian right.”
The North Face continues to support Pattie Gonia and in a statement to Grist said:
“The North Face has always believed that the outdoors should be a welcoming, equitable and safe place for all. We are honored and grateful to support partners like Pattie Gonia who help make this vision a reality. The Summer of Pride series, now in its second year, has helped create a more accessible and welcoming environment for people from all walks of life to come together and experience the joy of the outdoors.
But other brands facing similar reactions reacted differently.
Bud Light, which saw its sales plummet following its association with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaneyand Target, including the stock fell after unveiling a pride-themed collection, advertisements and products drawn who have shown their support for the LGBTQ+ community.
“What a lot of brands and businesses do, they align with the community whenever it’s profitable for them,” said Natalia Villarán, a community organizer with Queers 4 Climate Justice. “And then when there are actually danger signs around their earnings, they backtrack.”
She sees this issue as part of a larger issue for the LGBTQ+ community, where often the only place to be visible to the general public is to partner with a well-known company. Villarán wonders what support gay people in the environmental movement actually receive in light of the harassment they face.
“How do (brands) support the people they invite to be hyper visible?” she asked.
LGBT+ Outdoors board member Patrick Thompson said brands should consider the potential for negative outcomes before partnering with key figures in the queer community, so they are better prepared to cope. at any fallout.
“I think (the backlash) will make companies really dig deep and think before they publicly address their connection or enhance their connection with the LGBTQ+ community,” Thompson said.
As brands ponder these issues, Thompson notes that threats from right-wing extremists and politicians have made the world an increasingly dangerous place for LGBTQ+ people — and trans people in particular.
“We’re not leaving,” Thompson said. “We can’t be eradicated, we won’t be eradicated, and we’re here to live our lives authentically without fear: get out and enjoy as much as we can, protect the climate to the best of our abilities, and just do our thing. ”
This most recent wave of harassment is just one example of homophobia and transphobia in the larger environmental space. Last year, transphobia allegations divide environmentalists in the midst of an ongoing fight against a lithium mine in Nevada. In Florida, young climate activists are fighting the twin crises: the trampling of their civil rights as LGBTQ+ people and as those most affected by the climate crisis in a state that has taken regressive action on both issues.
“Just as climate denial was a GOP-backed oil and gas industry strategic maneuver and limited climate change mitigation,” Whitley said, “the attack on transgender and gender non-conforming people is a strategic move by the religious right, which is backed by the GOP to restrain societal change.
Pattie Gonia also wants people to see beyond the immediate culture wars to understand why it might benefit some groups to divide people amid the climate crisis.
“I think a lot of the world sees this fight as right or left or (that) everything is politicized,” Gonia told Grist. “When really, I think the real forces that we have to fight against are capitalism and the rich, who are using this time-tested tactic…to divide people.”
The distraction means people can’t focus on climate action, the real issue for Gonia.
“I just wish we could stop fighting, so we could fight the real forces that are killing the planet,” they said.
This post has been updated.