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Drag queen Pattie Gonia wanted a scary Halloween costume. She went as climate change

Drag queen Pattie Gonia's dress was made by Zero Waste Daniel, a designer in Brooklyn, N.Y., who focuses on sustainable clothing and accessories.
Pattie Gonia
Drag queen Pattie Gonia's dress was made by Zero Waste Daniel, a designer in Brooklyn, N.Y., who focuses on sustainable clothing and accessories.

Drag queen Pattie Gonia said she wanted a very scary costume for Halloween this year.

"And honestly, what is scarier than climate change?" the Nebraska native told NPR over the phone while doing their two-hour makeup routine.

Pattie lives in Bend, Ore., and describes themself as a drag queen, intersectional environmentalist and "professional homosexual." They do lots of community organizing and co-founded The Oath, a nonprofit that aims to diversify the outdoor community.

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Pattie Gonia (@pattiegonia)

The costume features a dress by Zero Waste Daniel that was made entirely of fabric scraps that would have otherwise been wasted. They started on the project a year and a half ago.

Pattie Gonia, who uses they/them and she/her pronouns in drag and whose non-drag name is Wyn Wiley, tried to reuse as much as she could for the rest of the look, including a bejeweled bag shaped like a stack of money, her nails and her signature tall auburn wig.

The dress includes symbols of climate devastation. At the bottom, a polar bear stands in a melting Arctic; an oil rig and factory appear on the dress's body; and a choking bird makes up one sleeve. Taylor Swift's private jet, complete with a trail of carbon, is set in Pattie's hair.

In a satirical Instagram post, Pattie Gonia presented "Climate change: a new fragrance by Chevron."
Grace Kaiser / Pattie Gonia
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Pattie Gonia
In a satirical Instagram post, Pattie Gonia presented "Climate change: a new fragrance by Chevron."

She said queerness and drag belong in environmentalism. "Drag has always been at the forefront of social justice movements," Pattie said. She wants to use the comedy and entertainment that often go hand in hand with drag as tools to communicate abstract and deep concepts.

Many in the LGBTQ community are also all too familiar with one approach to sparking climate action: guilt.

"I think there is so much personal guilt that people feel when it comes to the climate movement, because we've been hit with messaging for the past 50 years that it's our personal responsibility," Pattie said, adding that corporate profits are at an all-time high in 70 years.

Zero Waste Daniel started making the climate change-themed dress a year and a half ago, Pattie Gonia said.
Grace Kaiser / Pattie Gonia
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Pattie Gonia
Zero Waste Daniel started making the climate change-themed dress a year and a half ago, Pattie Gonia said.

"Especially for queer people, we know that shame and guilt are really powerful motivators, but they burn you out really fast."

One of the most important aspects of their work to inspire climate action, Pattie Gonia explained, is helping get people into nature.

"We fight for what we love," she said. "And I think if we can encourage people to get outside to connect to this planet, they're gonna fight so much harder for it, because they love it."

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Halisia Hubbard