The Great Out-Doors
At first glance, Pattie Gonia’s Instagram profile (@pattiegonia) looks a lot like every other glossy adventure feed, with dozens of shots of dreamy outdoor landscapes. In her first Instagram video, Pattie wears a green technical shirt and matching hat while carrying hiking poles and a backpack, with the mountains of Colorado’s Never Summer Wilderness looming in the background. Scroll down too quickly and you’ll miss the twist: her patent-leather boots with six-inch heels.
Pattie, whose name is a play on you know which brand, is the drag-queen alter ego of 27-year-old photographer Wyn Wiley. (Wiley refers to himself with male pronouns and to Pattie as she or her.) In that first post, from October 3, 2018, Pattie eats hot Cheetos, dances to Fergie, and declares herself the world’s first backpacking queen. Within a week she had more than 12,000 followers, a number that grew to over 150,000 in less than a year. Her fans leave hundreds of emoji-laden comments, praise her outfits, and invite her on hikes. She’s been featured on the websites of Backpacker, Elle, and Vogue, fielded a deluge of attention from advertisers, received DMs from Fergie, and even attended the Tony Awards.
Each new post brings a small delight. Pattie soundtracks wilderness scenes with Beyoncé and Ariana Grande, wears outfits made of recycled materials, and makes pop-culture homages. (She loves Brokeback Mountain.) Solemn moments gazing at sweeping vistas? Not so much. “It’s making light of something that can be so serious,” says Karen Wang, a photographer, through-hiker, and friend of Wiley’s who took pictures of Pattie in Seattle. “Some people are like, ‘Oh, my gosh, those heels—she’s gonna fall down!’ Or some ultralight hiker will be like, ‘Those heels are going to be so heavy.’ Y’all are missing the point!”
Given the size of Pattie Gonia’s following, it’s no surprise that outdoor companies have come knocking, looking for opportunities to reach her fans.
The reader who sent this to me adds:
Is there nothing the broad queering of American life will leave alone? This used to be one of my favorite outdoors magazines. A once-beloved journal, known for recruiting top literary talent to write about the outdoors, which in the fairly recent past featured stories that became famous books by the likes of Sebastian Junger and John Krakauer, but now featuring stories about a drag-queen hiker that wears stiletto heels to hike and you can follow on social media. I stopped subscribing years ago, and has started checking in on it very often. There must have been some major change in the editorship or ownership, cause they’ve gone off the deep end. Every time I’ve tried to read it, it’s just shot-through with identity politics (‘Why aren’t there more women of color in cycling?”), just ridiculous stuff that no one was really asking or caring about – and now I’m just officially done. Magazine publishing is on the ropes generally, and I guess that’s kind of sad, but at this point you can’t say it’s just technology that’s killing it, this is just suicide.
The point here is not Pattie Gonia. The point is a media that will not rest until it has queered everything.
More Pattie Gonia, via Instagram. The Sasquatches are running scared. Not sure how well this would play down here in the Atchafalaya Swamp:
UPDATE: A reader comments:
I shared this article with my roommate, his reaction was so ordinary that you would have thought it was an article about the life cycle of water; absolutely nothing is wrong with it, more than not being “wrong” it seemed to him to be “good”.
For all those who rip on the baby boomers (I do so myself) you just wait for the next generation to take the reins. Rod is fighting the good fight but we are 10 years away from being utterly obliterated by this.
Is there nothing the broad queering of American life will leave alone?
Many people think this is somehow a fringe movement; that a unique band of freaks is driving this train, but that view is mistaken. Outdoor magazine readers like these stories, like my roommate, the idea of ever increasing sexual boundaries excites them. It is not just a way to virtue signal, they take pleasure in these stories in the same manner many of us take pleasure in seeing someone baptized.
For the readers who will mock this lunacy, don’t, because the sexual revolution v2 clearly has the influence to converge even a magazine who’s mission couldn’t be farther away from sexualization. You laugh, blink, look again, and your own cherished institution/magazine/club is doing the same thing.
For the readers who claim that this is a nothing-burger, don’t, because the sexual revolution v2 clearly has the influence to converge even a magazine who’s mission couldn’t be farther away from sexualization. You deny it’s happening, and then deny it again when it happens somewhere else.