Combining being gay and green
Gerod Rody didn't mess around with noble sentiments. When I asked him why he started a green group pitched at the gay community, he said...
Seattle Times staff columnist
Gerod Rody didn't mess around with noble sentiments.
When I asked him why he started a green group pitched at the gay community, he said, "I kind of wanted to date and have the parts of my life come together."
But he is serious about both gender identity and environmental sustainability. And as far as he knows, his organization, Out for Sustainability, is the only one that tries to combine being gay with being green.
Rody is regularly drawing people out to social and educational events, sponsored by his and other pro-green organizations. On Earth Day, Out put on two Earth Gay events, doing habitat restoration on Beacon Hill and building a garden in South Park so some kids going through drug recovery can have fresh vegetables.
Rody is a designer and business consult who has a bachelor's degree in European studies from the University of Washington. He lives in West Seattle and just this June finished his master's degree in sustainable business at the Bainbridge Graduate Institute. He's planned weddings and helped design buildings, including helping his mother develop an organic restaurant in Puyallup.
He said his parents helped steer him toward social involvement. His father is a chiropractor and his mother has always been committed to natural living.
"So I kind of grew this early-on sense that you are supposed to be responsible your own self and your community as well."
His faith plays a role, too. Rody was brought up as an evangelical Christian. He's a Presbyterian now, but he's always believed "one of the reasons I was brought into the world is to effect positive change."
There weren't many other gay people at the Bainbridge institute, he said, so he felt "my values, centered on sustainability and my sexuality, were really disconnected."
He looked for organizations that bridge the gap but couldn't find one. So he enlisted fellow student Julian O'Reilley, and she helped him put together an organization (the Web site is outsustainability.com) with help from their network of friends in green groups and the gay community.
The sustainability movement is more than a subculture now, he said, and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) people are moving toward the mainstream. It felt like the right time to do some matchmaking.
There is a lot of diversity in the LGBT community. Rody's demographic, gay men, like most of us, has a mixed reputation when it comes to sustainable living.
Remember "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy"? That image doesn't hold true for everyone, but it's common enough, and a flair for consumption is not green. But living in small spaces in urban areas is.
Even Rody isn't entirely green. "Most of my clothes, I buy used, but I like shoes."
His idea isn't to push for perfection, but "to affirm people in what they already do" and provide them opportunities to learn about other things they can do.
"I've been surprised by how many people say they aren't being sustainable, but they take the bus to work, or they compost."
So far, the project hasn't jump-started his dating life, but Rody said, "It has expanded my social network and added depth to it."
That's nice, but there's something noble here, too: getting more people to embrace sustainable lifestyles.
Jerry Large's column appears Monday and Thursday. Reach him at 206-464-3346 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company
About Jerry Large
I try to write about the intersections of everyday life and big issues. I like to invite readers to think a little differently. The topics I choose represent the things in which I take an interest, and I try to deal with them the way most folks would, sometimes seriously, sometimes with a sense of humor. My column runs Mondays and Thursdays.
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