Travel + Leisure (USA)
In 2018, photographer Wyn Wiley spontaneously decided to pack a pair of platform heels for a hiking trip in Colorado. The next day, on the summit of a mountain, he pulled on the patent-leather knee-highs and filmed a video of himself strutting over boulders, sashaying along dirt paths, and posing between peaks.
And so Pattie Gonia was born. The “environmentalist, drag queen, and professional homosexual” went viral and, since then, has used social media to inspire diverse communities to get out in nature and raise awareness about climate change. “If you can hold onto your trash boyfriend for two whole years,” Pattie says in one Tik Tok video while picking up garbage wearing a ball gown and a Marie Antoinette–style wig made from recycled plastic, “then you can hold on to this piece of trash for five more minutes.”
While the videos are entertaining, they also deliver serious messages. Pattie has raised funds for LGBTQ youth programs like Camp Brave Trails, partnered with REI on a documentary about Hawaii’s plastic problem, and this year launched a nonprofit, the Oath, which empowers marginalized people to come together in the great outdoors. Because in nature, Pattie says, “binaries don’t exist. There is never just an either/or.” —