Welcome! For the past 13 weeks I have been writing this newsletter for my journalism class. But today, I am making the commitment to keep going, as this newsletter has already taught me much about intersectional activism in the outdoors. I hope you will continue on this journey with me. Today, I have a few pieces on programs, issues, and safe spaces for the LGBT+ community, outdoors, as well as info on how the industry can do better for queer folx.
Miles Griffis lists and describes LGBT+ specific events in the outdoors for the New York Times. This article was specifically created for last June’s pride events, as it was the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, but most of these programs continue to be available. However, I conducted research into the organizations mentioned in order to find more current programs. Griffis said, “The rainbow flag will also wave this summer and fall in the great outdoors, in a variety of backcountry trips, hikes, festivals and tours.” Below are the most prominent of the programs mentioned, and a couple of my own additions.
☆ Venture Out offers affordable backpacking, hiking, canoeing, and community events for queer teens, adults, and families, led by queer folks. Current programs include:
☆ National Outdoor Leadership School is not an LGBT+ specific organization but offers multiple programs for LGBT+ youth with queer leaders/ counselors. NOLS also offers POC specific expeditions.
☆ Camp OUTdoors is a summer camp for queer youth. Their motto is “Out of the closet, into the Woods.”
Partners Pinar and So Sinopoulos-Llyod started Queer Nature after falling in love at a wilderness school. Pinar, who identifies as a neurodivergent trans person of color, and So, who identifies as a gender-nonconforming queer, run an educational social media page, hold events and teach tracking and other wilderness skills, such as hide tanning and ethical hunting. They keep all programs low cost and low gear, so that anyone can join. “At Queer Nature, we call ourselves an organism rather than an organization. This is in part because we see how beautifully the natural world mirrors the brilliance of collaboration,” said Pinar.
Mikah Meyer writes an opinion piece for High Country News on the failures of the outdoor industry for queer folks. His experience as a gay man traveling, backpacking, and simply BEING outdoors have been fraught with bigotry and ignorance. He claims that outdoor companies are not doing enough to represent the LGBT+ community. Although he acknowledges that often corporations do this only to make a profit, he ultimately argues that even this “rainbow washing” is pushing queer rights forward. This is a controversial opinion, as many believe that real change will never come through channels of capitalism.
Thank you for reading! I hope you take some time to look into these organizations & organisms.