Published: May 31, 2021 By

girl waving rainbow flags at paradeI’m a MENV student studying Sustainable Food Systems, I have what has been described as an “unhealthy obsession” with Taylor Swift, and I just adopted a puppy named Mia Thermopolis, Princess of Genovia. She wears a rainbow collar and looks just smashing in it.

I still remember how nervous I was to attend my first New York Pride. The memory is almost funny to me now: stomach in knots, deep breathing on the Megabus of all places, newly out and trying to convince myself that I had a right to be there. I think it makes me laugh because now, six years later, being queer is so central to who I am that I sometimes joke it’s the most interesting thing about me. I don’t know if I could have reached this point of confidence and security within myself without that first Pride, or any Pride month that followed. June has become my favorite month because it reminds me how lucky I am to be part of a community where I’m not only accepted, but celebrated, valued, and validated.

And it’s a community I’ve learned a lot from. It’s made me a better and more empathetic listener. It constantly reminds me what a colossal waste of time it is to make assumptions, particularly about other people. It’s shown me how people of different backgrounds and identities can come together to support one another. And while we’re on the subject - friendly reminder that it costs zero dollars to respect someone’s pronouns.

I’m still figuring out exactly what I want to be when I grow up, but I’m grateful that being part of this community has put intersectionality at the center of the work I hope to do in food systems and sustainability. Until I came to MENV and learned about environmental justice, I didn’t know that homophobia is rooted in colonialism, which has everything to do with the way we treat the environment today. I also don’t think a lot of people realize that LGBTQ+ kids are more likely to experience hunger and homelessness. An environmental issue is a women’s issue is an LGBTQ+ issue is a BIPOC issue, because the structures that uphold them are too intertwined to separate. So I think in that sense, the LGBTQ+ community has shown me that if we aren’t including everyone—trans women of color, nonbinary kids, queer homeless teens, and so on—we aren’t really doing the work.