By Lauren Graham, UWE student
Queerness and nature are often portrayed in popular culture as being worlds apart, but is nature really that straight? Studying Fine Art, my current works have led me to looking at how the natural landscapes around us become engrained in our identities. Drawing from my own experiences, my profound relationship with nature has cultivated who I am today. Provided with solace, shrouded by comfort, being in nature has given me the confidence to be vulnerable, embrace who I am, and blossom beyond my wildest dreams. Nurtured into falling in love with my queerness, I soon realised that being queer isn’t degusting or weird, it’s beautiful and completely natural as the world of Queer Ecology has discovered.
The term ‘Queer Ecology’ references to the interdisciplinary study of nature that intertwines traditional ecology with contemporary conservation, eco feminism, queer theory and decolonial philosophy. Queer Ecology seeks to dismantle the heterosexist gaze of nature in popular culture, allowing us to better understand the sexual fluidity of the natural world. From doing so, not only are we able to better understand ourselves, but also how our natural world, and how to better protect it.
In context with modern Queer Ecology, the study has evolved a long way with, but it’s still heavily subjected to a societal heterosexual gaze. Plant and animal behaviour is often only represented from a purely straight reproductive perspective, which fails to acknowledge that not all sex leads to reproduction. Queer Ecology challenges the notion that queerness is unnatural, I think that’s something we should talk a lot more about, especially in popular culture.
Having a queerer representation of nature could help us override the argument that being queer isn’t natural which could shift societal homophobia to normalise embracing our gender or sexual identities. But also, it would help us understand the world we live in, improving our relationship with our planet and its future.
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