Bisexual flowers, birds in drag: ‘Queer ecology’ is all over LA

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Throughout the month of June, Jason Wise (far left) is hosting a series of sunset “Queer Ecology” hikes in Griffith Park and along the LA River. Photo courtesy of Jason Wise.

From parades to parties to protests, there are a lot of different ways to observe Pride Month in Los Angeles. But one way you might not have considered celebrating? A peaceful walk through nature. 

Throughout June, environmental educator and naturalist Jason “Journeyman” Wise will be hosting a series of free hikes that explore the local landscape through the lens of “queer ecology” — or the idea that nature, like the LGBTQ community, doesn’t always subscribe to western societal norms.

On Instagram, Wise has gone viral for his videos exploring the homosexual tendencies of bears, the asexual and bisexual reproductive processes used by some flowers, and the notion that “birds are drag.” But he says that the queerness of nature runs deeper than just plants and animals exhibiting behaviors that humans might deem “gay.” 

“It's [about] all the species in nature that defy our western cultural human expectations,” says Wise. “So it can touch on to two bigger areas than just the LGBTQ community — talking about areas of feminism and capitalism, even.” 

He points to the example of California’s coastal redwoods, which are some of the tallest trees on the planet. Despite the fact that they have shallow root systems, Wise says they can grow to astounding heights because they intertwine those roots to make each other stronger. 

“They are supporting each other just to hold each other up,” says Wise. “This is a system of helping each other out … a more communal system, rather than maybe the more individualistic system that we that we live under under capitalism.” 

Looking at how these different ways of existing manifest in nature can help us reflect on and understand the diversity of our own species, says Wise. 

“I know that how humans react in this world can get political to some people,” says Wise. “But what nature is doing, it just exists. That is totally natural … it's undeniable.” 

This month’s series of walks in Griffith Park and along the LA River will explore local examples of queer ecology, while providing a safe space for Angelenos to build community. Moving forward, Wise plans to partner with local LGBTQ organizations to offer the walks on a monthly basis. 

“I know from my personal experience that this information just helps me feel more comfortable about my space in the world,” says Wise. “And I'm seeing it happen with other people too. And that's why I want to keep on talking about it.”

Those interested in attending can sign up on Wise’s website