This is the second installation of Straddler On The Street, a new feature where I celebrate all of you incredible Autostraddle readers by hunting you down, demanding you chat with me, and then writing about you on the Internet where we can all ohhh and ahhh about how perfect you are! Every Monday I'll introduce you to a new Autostraddler that you can totally crush on. So get excited, because butterflies in your stomach 24/7 is a fantastic way to live.
Header by Rosa Middleton
Straddler On The Street: Allison, 20
It's Monday, which means it's time to meet another amazing Straddler. Say hello to Allison, who tells me she also goes by Allie or Utah or Hunger Gaymz. She's 20 years old and lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, where she's a junior at the University of Utah studying Environmental and Sustainability Studies.
When I met Allison at A-Camp in April I was drawn to her easy-going nature, her self-deprecating sense of humor, and her sarcastic cocky charm. She says she's "living and loving behind the Zion Curtain with a bunch of queers trying to live outside of the Zion Closet," which actually sounds like a really good premise for a reality teevee show, no? She enjoys living vicariously through Autostraddle, watching documentaries about Scrabble champions, and making Mormons uncomfortable. Intrigued? Of course you are. Read on to learn more about AllisonAllieUtahHungerGaymz.
Hi Allison. Are you ready?
I'm here and I'm queer and I'm ready.
Excellent! Let's dive in. Have you lived in Utah your whole life?
I was born in Newport Beach, California and moved to Utah when I was really little. So basically yes.
Can you tell me a little bit about what it's like to live in Utah?
I grew up in a much more conservative part of Utah where there wasn't any exposure to queer things, sex things, or fun things so I spent most of my life under a rock. Salt Lake is a whole different animal and I love it. The queer community is moderately big and there is always something to do. I still run into hateful people but that is to be expected. And my university is a super friendly environment…I assumed you meant "What's it like to live in Utah" in terms of being queer.
Yes I did mean that but as a New Yorker I also just meant in general, what it's like to see land and mountains and air without pollution.
Well there are outdoor activities like hiking, skiing, biking, and swimming which is always fun. But we actually have a huge air pollution problem.
Oh shit, really?
Salt Lake is in a bowl surrounded by mountains so during the winter the nasty air gets trapped in town and we usually have red air quality days.
Well then. I bet that is common knowledge to most Americans and now I feel silly. but I'm actually Canadian so maybe it's okay.
No worries! It's not super common knowledge. Most of Utah is a mystery.
Alright I'll try not to feel bad about myself then. So, the environment! You do a lot of environmental studies work and activism, correct?
I do! My major and my job both focus on the environment and human impact, and I love protesting and causing scenes for the environment.
Can you talk about some basic stuff we can all start doing to help our environment?
You should always reduce, reuse, THEN recycle. You can start by taking your own silverware places where plastic ware is being used and using reusable water bottles and grocery bags. Then educate yourself on what is recyclable in your town or city. Like in Utah we have to separate our glass and take it to drop off points around the valley. Also, watch some documentaries. And turn off your lights, shutdown your computer at night, and use power strips for appliances.
"Shutdown your computer at night." Guilty as charged, I will try to be better. Can you recommend some good documentaries for us to get started with?
Carbon Nation is a recent favorite. They aren't all doom and gloom. Bag it!, Tapped, If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front. Dive is an awesome documentary about food waste.
Excellent, thank you. Any book suggestions?
One of my favorite books is 6 Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet.
Do you feel like your environmental work intersects with your queer activism?
That's a hard question. I'm going to say yes and no. I use a lot of similar tactics in outreach to students and community but people in Utah tend to be more receptive to environmental education than queer education. People can relate more to not cutting down trees than to me sleeping with who I want and identifying how I want.
And what about the reverse? Do you think queers as a community are good about environmental responsibility?
I meet so many environmentally conscious queers! Conscious meaning that they once saw Food Inc. and it changed their lives. But hey, everyone starts somewhere. I don't meet a ton of adversity in the queer community. They are always willing to listen to me complain about cars and such.
We are good at listening to people complain about things. In your dream world, what does your future look like?
My dream job, to be completely real, is a post office worker. After I graduate though I want to go to school for a masters of public administration and work on a college campus to promote sustainability among students. Basically I want to be a college student forever. I will probably stay in Utah for grad school then move out for my job or doctorate. I really want to end up in the land of lesbians.
And where's that?
Ah, "where the coffee is strong and so are the women." Let's end with a fun question: Who is your celeb crush?
Kate Winslet was my first celebrity crush. And every Autostraddle writer and reader, who are all celebrities in my heart.
Awwww, you charmer. Do you have anything else you want to tell the Autostraddle celeb community?
Only that I love them already and that if they think I'm cute all I have to say is, "Heeey gurl."
If you would like to be featured as a future Straddler on the Street, please email vanessa [at] autostraddle [dot] com. Include a few photos, 3-5 sentences about yourself and put "Straddler Submission" in your subject line. Photos must be high-resolution. Please include at least one vertical shot that is taken outdoors or in very amazing indoor lighting -- low-light selfies, while sexy in their own right, will never ever ever be considered. Also you guys are super awesome and so many of you have already submitted, so please be patient as I work on responding to all of you.