Pattie Gonia is more than a drag queen; she’s an environmentalist who is introducing the magic of nature to a new generation. And she just topped the list for “nine game changers” that were featured in National Geographic’s 2024 Travelers of the Year.
In addition to Pattie Gonia, the magazine also highlighted the global work of disability access advocate Vasu Sojitra, sustainability manager Susanne Etti, iconic singer-songwriter Dolly Parton, and more.
When the publication hit newsstands and web browsers, Pattie Gonia (whose off-stage name is Wyn Wiley) — took to Threads to acknowledge that receiving the title of “Traveler of the Year” was “an honor.”
In the article, the magazine recognizes Pattie Gonia’s work as the co-founder of the nonprofit organization Outdoorist Oath, which promotes adventure, education, and climate justice through an inclusive lens.
“Every year my community fundraises to send 10 queer youth on a fully scholarshipped backpacking trip,” Pattie Gonia told National Geographic. “One of the attendees told me and the group around the fire, ‘Being on this trip has helped me reclaim a childhood I didn’t get to have.’ That’s everything to me.”
Pattie Gonia fearlessly pursues intersectional activism in her advocacy. For years, she has been creating a space for LBGTQ+ youth in the great outdoors and engaging in environmentalism with humor and joy.
In 2023, Pattie Gonia co-hosted an environmental drag show during Earth Week in San Francisco titled “SAVE HER!” and teamed up with a line-up of drag queens and kings to put on a show-stopping ode to Mother Earth.
Most recently, Pattie Gonia collaborated with Yo-Yo Ma and Quinn Christopherson to release “Won’t Give Up,” a single about refusing to give up on the planet.
Before signing off in her National Geographic feature, the magazine asked her to describe her drag style.
“Campy, witty, sustainable, and unapologetic,” Pattie Gonia quipped. “A lady in the streets but a freak on the peaks.”
Header images courtesy of Pattie Gonia and Evan Benally Atwood/National Geographic