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This chapter focuses on strengthening the analytical lens used to examine the sexuality–environment connection. Using the case of LGBTQ farmers and queer rural folks more generally, I argue for more theoretical and empirical work within environmental sociology that focuses on queer issues. I highlight the politics behind the exclusion of LGBTQs from rural spaces and review the rich scholarship documenting the lives of rural queers. I discuss recent efforts by the US Department of Agriculture to include rural LGBTQs in its programming, then turn to the scholarship on LGBTQ farmers and queers working in sustainable agriculture. I highlight emerging “eco-queer movements” grounded in LGBTQ rights and environmentalism, particularly land projects and alternative food spaces. The intersectional approaches used by practitioners on the ground have much to offer to the field. I conclude with a discussion of the importance of integrating sexuality as an important dimension of environmental justice and environmental sociology.
In the final chapter of this far-reaching handbook, we turn to the future of the field, giving special attention to the most exciting and promising developments in theory and practice. But first, we want to retrace our steps to remind the reader of our intentions in putting together this collection.
Environmental sociology has become quite broad and highly multifaceted in a short period of time. As one of us has noted elsewhere (Bell & Ashwood, 2016), in the late 1990s social scientists had just begun thinking about environmental questions. Now, however, the idea that the social sciences have something to offer to the study of environmental problems is unlikely to give one pause.
As with any edited collection, when planning the Cambridge Handbook of Environmental Sociology we imagined who would be using the text, and when they would be using it. We considered a researcher, starting on a new project and looking for approaches to better understand a complex environmental problem; a student, having been exposed to environmental sociology, excited by some ideas and looking to become better oriented with the field; a teacher, looking for readings to assign to students in the upcoming semester; or a practitioner, whose interest lies somewhere in that liminal space straddling town and gown. We thought of the purpose of handbooks, in a world where a quick search on the Internet can generate an article to answer any question, and sometimes an article to seemingly support just about any belief. In this context, a handbook can act as a reliable reference point that includes a broad, but not boundless, survey of ideas and a quick, but not superficial, snapshot of some of the empirical work that supports and elaborates those ideas.