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This nature-loving ‘backcountry’ drag queen hikes in six-inch heels and it’s amazing

Lily Wakefield November 6, 2019
the world's first backpacking queen Pattie Gonia. (Pattie Gonia/ Instagram)

The "world's first backpacking queen" Pattie Gonia. (Pattie Gonia/ Instagram)

Wyn Wiley is an eagle scout, hiker, rock climber and traveller. He is also Pattie Gonia, the self-described “world’s first backpacking queen”, who dances on mountains in six-inch heels and makes fabulous dresses out of outdoor gear.

Pattie’s first Instagram post was only a year ago and she has already amassed almost 200,000 followers, which she attributes to her unconventional brand of drag which is a far cry from RuPaul’s Drag Race

Wyn told Outside: “I think if I just walked onto the scene as Pattie as just a classic drag queen, I don’t think it would have as much engagement.”

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“It’s been my experience that the moment you do the thing you think the world won’t love you for, the world’s going to love you a lot more for it." – @pattiegonia . I sat down with @rei, @shelbystanger & @wildideasworthliving to record my first podcast interview and it’s out today. I hope it means something to you when you listen. . It’s been a joy I can’t even begin to wrap my head around to form this community with y’all. For all of you whether you’re brand new around here or been here since i was a mere fetus baby queen, you’ve helped form the message and intent every day through your love and support. . Search Wild Ideas Worth Living on all major podcast outlets to listen. . Photo by my lovely friend @life_unbound_

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Ultimately, Wyn wants Pattie to take on the macho stereotypes of outdoor adventure and show that nature is accessible to everyone, including the LGBT+ community.

He added: “I just got into rock climbing this year, and you can masculine your way up a wall, but there’s no beauty in it.

“The people I look up to at my rock climbing gym who are so graceful about it pull from all the feminine aspects — it’s like watching ballet happen on a wall.

“It takes a freakin’ boss-ass bitch to climb a mountain, no matter whoever you are. Girl, guy, no matter where you are on the spectrum, it’s awesome.”

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please caption. photo cred: my mom.

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Wyn told Sierra that he grew up closeted in Nebraska, and that being Pattie sometimes has helped him to embrace himself.

He said: “I always imagine I’m posting to a queer, closeted 14-year-old like I used to be — someone who needed someone to be honest, to share where they were at.

“Through Pattie, I’m learning to love and accept myself for myself — the feminine me and the masculine me.”

He said that just like outdoor pursuits, drag is for everyone and we’re all performing: “When I put on my straight-passing outfits and lower my voice to drive across Nebraska because I don’t want the looks, that’s drag.

“When we put on our $500 hiking outfits, that’s us dressing in outdoorsy drag.”

Pattie Gonia also helps her followers become aware of environmental issues, for example with her guide “How not to be a trashy queen this Halloween”.

Wyn recently started running LGBT+ hikes and clean-up projects in character as Pattie.

“We’re gonna do a whole Midwest tour in seemingly average spaces — neighbourhood and state parks.

“Because not everyone lives with access to privileged outdoor spaces, and not every adventure has to be about conquering, about epic views.”

More: drag queen, hiking, mountain climbing, Pattie Gonia, rock climbing, travel

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