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LGBTQ+ Adventurers, In Their Own Words

Alison Criscitiello

Alison Criscitiello

Activity: adventuring, backcountry skiing, mountaineering

How I Identify: gay

“The outdoors is everything to me. Wilderness, cold high places, icefalls, oxygen-starved massifs have shaped who I am, and how I move through the world. The outdoors is where I go to get back to myself, to power up and simplify, to challenge myself and learn what I’m capable of. It’s a place to fully realize the deep bonds possible between people that could never be forged so strongly without remoteness, reliance and wonder.”

Alisson Xavier

Alisson Xavier

Activity: swimming and cooking around the campfire

How I Identify: gay cisgender male

“I was born and raised in Brazil and moved to New York when I was in my early teens. There was no camping culture in Brazil, it was almost as if there was a mentality of ‘I worked so hard to be able to afford a place to live, why would I sleep outside?’ It was only when I moved to California in my mid-20s that I was able to go camping for the first time and at first I did have that struggle of ‘Why am I sleeping outside?’ But after a couple of nights of storytelling and stargazing … I was hooked!”

Allison Tucker

Allison Tucker

Activity: camping, hiking, running and swimming

How I Identify: queer

“I feel that there is a mutual understanding within the LGBTQ world that the outdoors and nature does not discriminate but accepts and invites everyone to experience it. The idea of acceptance and a truly judgment-free zone is a comfort to me. I am thankful the outdoors provides that space.”

Andrew LaValle

Andrew LaValle

Activity: mountain climbing

How I Identify: gay

“The grandeur of wilderness really keeps you in check and is a necessary reminder that there is something greater than yourself. There is a lot of spiritual power in realizing that there is a big natural world out there that doesn?t revolve around humans. When we lose wilderness, we lose a certain sense of wonder.”

Bam Mendiola

Bam Mendiola

Activity: climbing

How I Identify: child of Mexican immigrants, queer and nonbinary person of color

“Growing up, my ‘outdoors’ was informed by farm work and migrant labor. My mother, an apple picker, taught me that being outdoors for many communities of color meant shouldering the load of the American dream in taxing environmental conditions. My father, a fisherman, taught me that being outdoors meant floating on the Bering Sea for six months on a ship full of king crab and remittances. I became a climber to reclaim the richness of the relationship that my ancestors once had with land and space. I stand on the summit of stratovolcanoes so that the next generation of the queer community can see further than my ancestors and I did—with a fuller and more storied understanding of what it means to be outside.”

Carlos Bermudez

Carlos Bermudez

Activity: fly-fishing and fly-tying

How I Identify: cis queer man

“When I think of the outdoors and who the media/industry show as ‘outdoorsy people,’ I never see myself or my friends reflected back. Visibility for queer, trans, POC and folks with varying abilities is quite limited. There’s so much more work to be done and I appreciate all the work that organizations like OUT There Adventures, Latino Outdoors, Outdoor Afro, Melanin Basecamp and Unlikely Hikers (just to name a few) are doing to dismantle the notion that the outdoors is just for cisgender, white, heteronormative (mostly) men who can afford to explore the outdoors.”

Cason Crane

Cason Crane

Activity: exploring nature in all its forms

How I Identify: gay man

“The outdoors represents the unbounded potential of our world—and of the human spirit—and every time I venture to the wilderness, I feel connected to it and inspired to do more with my body, my mind, and my life.”

Chris Mosier

Chris Mosier

Activity: camping, stand up paddle boarding, kayaking, hiking

How I Identify: queer trans man

“I am often alone in outdoor recreation spaces as the only transgender person in a group or the only queer person that I know of doing an activity. I want to be the representation others need to see in order to know it’s OK for them to pursue their passions, whether that is in sports and fitness or in outdoor recreational activities.”

Coree Woltering

Coree Woltering

Activity: trail, mountain, ultra and adventure racing

How I Identify: gay male

“To me, the outdoors is a place I can go to test my boundaries physically and mentally. There is something freeing about the outdoors and the unknown. When I head out on a run, I have an idea of what might happen or a goal for the day, but I never know for sure. I also find the outdoors (endurance sports anyway) to be open and accepting, which allows for the freedom to be me.”

Eva Kloiber

Eva Kloiber

Activity: climbing, mountaineering, hiking, biking, skiing and surfing

How I Identify: queer trans woman

“At the best of times, my identity doesn’t matter in the outdoors, which is a liberating feeling. At the worst, it can turn a wonderful experience into an awful one. While it’s true that ‘nature doesn’t see gender/sexuality/race,’ the reality is that the other people inhabiting nature do and can have strong opinions about it.”

Hannah Malvin

Hannah Malvin

Activity: canoeing, backpacking, hiking and biking

How I Identify: lesbian

“I first fell in love with the outdoors well before I knew I was a lesbian. Since then, building LGBTQ community around the outdoors has enriched my connection with the outdoors. Through my work with Pride Outside, it’s been wonderful coming together for hikes, outdoor skills classes, LGBTQ history walking tours and the LGBTQ Outdoor Summit. Making new friends and learning about their experiences has been a real joy.”

Jenny Bruso

Jenny Bruso

Activity: hiking, kayaking, rock climbing and running (jogging)

How I Identify: queer, fat, femme

“When people ask me how outdoor culture can be more inclusive of everyone, I say that it starts with our everyday lives and unlearning white supremacy, anti-blackness, colonialist behavior, and gender- and body-essentialism. The outdoors isn’t an escape from the more harmful parts of daily life for everyone.”

Jes Scott

Jes Scott

Activity: climbing, hiking and mountaineering

How I Identify: queer

“It is scary to come out to a group of strangers when you’re in the middle of nowhere. You hope most people have the decency to just move along. But what if they don’t? There is no way to get away from people when you are literally tied together on a rope team.”

Keala Kennelly

Keala Kennelly

Activity: surfing, big wave surfing, SUP, hiking, biking, soccer

How I Identify: androgynous female lesbian

“I love the outdoors. I need to feel sun on my skin, be in nature and hear/feel the ocean to feel complete. But if you are LGBT it is very hard to get sponsors.”

Kelly Muededonck

Kelly Muededonck

Activity: mountain biking, skiing, paddle boarding, hiking and camping

How I Identify: strong mountain mama, lesbian, feminist

“I know that new trails and new sports can be really intimidating if you don’t have someone to help you with the basics. As a woman in the outdoors, I feel part of a larger sisterhood to mentor other people and help them get outside and truly feel the power of Mother Nature, regardless of identity or gender. The outdoors are for all of us.”

Mercy M'fon

Mercy M’fon

Activity: backpacking, canoeing, wandering

How I Identify: queer

“I find the concept of ‘outdoor recreation’ very limiting and clashing. It is centered in a colonizer mindset of being out of relationship with and disconnected from nature. For me I connect deeply being between the trees and near water. The trees are so giving, there is an abundance of love and acceptance there. As a Queer of Color, I find this realm of the outdoors the most accepting of my full self.”

Mikah Meyer

Mikah Meyer

Activity: adventuring

How I Identify: gay

“‘Nature doesn’t care if you’re gay,’ I often hear from people. They’re right, nature doesn’t care if someone is gay, 7 feet tall, or likes disco (though really, the outdoors might be more fun if this was required). But unfortunately, people do, and it’s reflected in the lack of LGBT people shown in images of ‘outdoorsy types.’ So through my adventures I seek to showcase an example of an openly gay man who loves the outdoors.”

Miles Griffis

Miles Griffis

Activity: backpacking, skiing, birding, rock climbing, hiking, canoe/kaykaing, writing

How I Identify: queer/gay

“At one time, outdoor recreation was a way to scramble, paddle and trek away from my own identity. But at some milestone before coming out, I realized my identity in nature as natural. Ever since, I’ve developed a beat in my writing that documents the stories of queer people and queerness in the outdoors.”

Nikki Smith

Nikki Smith

Activity: climbing, trail running, hiking, mountain biking and backpacking

How I Identify: a woman who happens to be queer and transgender

“As a white, cisgender, and heterosexual society, we regularly hear that the outdoors are for everyone. I used to think the same. Now, since I came out as trans, I find these amazing places a little more difficult. While these beautiful spaces remain the same, the people in and around them are not always as accepting of me or others who don’t fit the typical outdoor narrative. We need to remember that while some feel safe in the outdoors, many others do not feel welcome. We need to move past statements saying the outdoors are for everyone and instead ask: How can I help make the outdoors more accessible to others?”

Perry Cohen

Perry Cohen

Activity: trail running, hiking, mountain biking, skiing

How I Identify: queer transman

“The outdoors to me has always been the place where I could be free. From the time I was a very little kid in New Hampshire, I always found respite and joy in the outdoors. It was this expansive beautiful place without mirrors, without bathrooms, where everyone got dirty and where gender wasn’t always at the fore. I remember loving the fact that, in the outdoors, my tomboy-ness was an asset and not a liability. It’s always been the place where I most appreciate my body because it’s the means by which I summit a peak, ski a line and ride a wave.”

P?nar Ate? Sinopoulos-Lloyd

P?nar Ate? Sinopoulos-Lloyd

Activity: wandering, ceremony, wildlife tracking, backcountry canoeing, snowshoeing, listening to and identifying bird songs, making baskets and creating friction fires

How I Identify: QTBIPOC: Huanca, Turkish + Chinese. Disabled indigenous futurist and ecophilosopher whose culturally rooted gender identity is Quariwarmi.

“As an indigenous outdoors catalyst, I am painfully aware that we are on stolen land of First Nations peoples. Much of my ecophilosophical work is to untangle the colonized perspectives we inadvertently play out in our outdoor activities. How do we unconsciously perpetuate an extractive relationship to place? With organizations like Native Women’s Wilderness—who I am a trans ambassador of—and Indigenous Women Hike, we are seeing awareness shift and make an impact with how we engage with the natural world and First Nations communities.”

Rebecca Shaffer

Rebecca Shaffer

Activity: skijoring, hiking, kayaking, Nordic skating on frozen lakes, camping, remote cabin trips, winter hiking and snowshoeing with polks

How I Identify: lesbian

“The first few times I flew to remote jobsites, I remember looking down from a bush plane and thinking how crazy discrimination against the LGBTQ community seems in a survival setting. After 10 years, my experience is that being authentic to myself matters a lot and is a skill I use over and over to better respond to things that happen outdoors. Noticing and accepting that I was gay, coming out, even when every message in my culture or family of origin was saying something else, was good preparation for noticing signs in nature that tell me something unexpected. Trusting my senses and opening my eyes to what is really in front of me in the outdoors is like coming out all over again—but better—because when I can figure out how things work, however fickle, it brings with it a sense of being in tune with nature and being human and that is deeply validating.”

Samantha Puc

Samantha Puc

Activity: bicycling, camping, hiking and swimming

How I Identify: fat, cisgender lesbian

“As an adult, I’m learning how to reclaim outdoor spaces that previously felt closed off to me by simply doing things I enjoy and not caring what people may think of me or whether they’re judging me. Just because outdoor recreation is marketed toward thin, able-bodied white people, that doesn’t mean the rest of us aren’t allowed or that we shouldn’t do what we love just because we supposedly don’t fit the mold for who belongs in those spaces.”

Samuel Crossley

Samuel Crossley

Activity: climbing

How I Identify: gay male

“I didn’t realize I kept my climbing life separate from my identity as a gay man until I went to Homoclimbtastic, an LGBT climbing festival. Before this, I thought I was the only gay climber. I soon realized the importance of making my identity visible in the climbing community. I don’t want anyone to have to feel like they had to ‘come out’ to the climbing community as I had to.”

Sebastian Cancino

Sebastian Cancino

Activity: hiking, backpacking, running, swimming, dancing

How I Identify: queer/gay male

“I was a fat, nerdy kid and I never felt very comfortable in my own skin. When I came out in my teens, I gained a confidence that came with knowing myself, but I still felt like I wasn’t ‘man enough.’ I dove headfirst into solo hiking and backpacking as a way not only to escape but to return with proof that I was a man. I’m still working to dismantle this damaging standard in myself. Now, I am wiser (not wise, just wiser). I know there are many types of good men, and we are all man enough. I know that nature is healing, but it doesn’t hold all of the answers.”

Silvia Vasquez-Lavado

Silvia Vasquez-Lavado

Activity: mountaineering, hiking, anything with mountains

How I Identify: Silvia, Sil, she, her, kindhearted-badass-female-goddess

“The outdoors mean everything to me. They have provided me with safety, acceptance, compassion and love. I have been able to bring my pain, my joy and I have always felt extremely supported and welcome; though at times, their almighty power has made it tricky being out there, yet fortunate to still continue telling of its stories.”

Sophia “So” Sinopoulos-Lloyd

Sophia “So” Sinopoulos-Lloyd

Activity: long-distance backpacking and tracking

How I Identify: queer, white and Greek-American

“I think my first means to falling in love with the outdoors was long-distance backpacking. When I was 15 I had the privilege of summiting Tumanguya (known as Mount Whitney in English) in an eleven-day out-and-back with a handful of other teenagers. This was a turning point for me because it helped me begin to heal my relationship with my body and identity, and a big part of this was actually because, for me, being in nature and away from what people call ‘civilization’ de-centers (though doesn’t completely erase) aspects of human society—including the roles we have or are forced to have in the dominant culture. When in the backcountry with a small group of people you trust, everyone is able to have a role that is really specific to that group, and taking care of your body and feeding yourself becomes part of supporting others.”

Taylor Endress

Taylor Endress

Activity: camping

How I Identify: transgender man

“The outdoors is a space that does not judge you, that does not discriminate, and it never makes you feel like you’re unwelcome. Camping is my favorite outdoor activity and not once have I ever felt like I don’t belong. There is something that is totally welcoming about the outdoor space as if there is room for every being. I simply feel as though I am looked at as the same as anyone who enjoys being outside and has an appreciation for nature.”

Brontë Velez

Brontë Velez

Activity: sitting and being softened by the birds

How I Identify: black-latinx queer womxn

“For me, the language of the outdoors is a direct reflection of the grief of our domestication. The outdoors marks our profound distance from relationship with nature as a part of us and us a part of them. The outdoors reminds me of my kinship with the wild and our shared, coerced marginalization—the quiet ways we both long to dance each other to the center again. I love the radical act of reimagining being outside as inside as a way to re-belong myself to the earth. For me being black and out and black and in the earth is a radical act against our forced separation from interconnectedness with the land.”

Syren Nagakyrie

Syren Nagakyrie

Activity: day hiking

How I Identify: white disabled queer person from a poor/working class background

“Like many queer disabled people, I have always struggled with fitting in—am I queer enough for LGBTQ+ spaces? Am I abled enough for outdoor groups? The question of whether spaces are accessible to me and which of my identities I am going to have to hide in order to feel welcomed is always at the forefront of my mind. When I am alone outdoors, all of that fades away. Once I have the information that I need to plan a hike, I can decide for myself what my experience will be. Being outdoors gives me the opportunity to just be with a world that is the epitome of diversity, noticing where life thrives in similarly liminal and impossible places. These moments of wonder sustain me as I work towards an outdoors movement that embraces the diversity of all bodies.”

Jaimée Marsh

Jaimée Marsh

Activity: running, yoga, swimming, hiking, biking, beach volleyball, kayaking, snowshoeing

How I Identify: black, queer, pansexual, gender expansive and jaiméezing!

“My identity and the outdoors overlap because the outdoors is the place where I get grounded and strengthen my courage to walk in the world. Being me in the outdoors hasn’t always been easy, and there are many stereotypes about what black/queer people do (or don’t do) on top of safety concerns. After a period of feeling isolated, I challenged myself to rebuild my relationship with the notion of playing outside as a self care practice. First, I biked and ran around my neighborhood, stopping at parks and photographing my favorite flowers. Next, I spent time at the lake reinvigorating my yoga practice and love of swimming. Now, my friends and I curate our own beach, hiking, and yoga meet ups, and I find joy and affirmation in the ever-growing amount of queer and people of color-centered movement spaces!”

Molly Ferris

Molly Ferris

Activity: rock climbing, casual kayaking, riding my motorcycle

How I Identify: queer

“The outdoors means simplicity to me. I like going outside and not having to worry about technology or having things done at the speed of light. … I think my identity as a queer person is natural, just as nature. Being outside is for every body [spacing intentional] no matter what.”

Beatrix Belden

Beatrix Belden

Activity: backpacking, camping

How I Identify: lesbian cis woman

“Being connected to nature is a big part of the women’s/lesbian community I spend time in. I don’t think it’s unusual among the women I know to be doing a long hike alone. But to the general population, it may seem crazy that a (self-identified) fat dyke is walking over 1,000 miles solo.”

Houston LeBrun

Houston LeBrun

Activity: open-water swimming, fast walking, cycling, paddle boarding, kayaking and hiking

How I Identify: queer

“I would say that my identity and nature overlap and very rarely clash. I am there to be me and nature is exactly that as well. When I go to nature for this purpose of being fully myself I am amazingly comfortable, more relaxed than I get anywhere else, and I let nature direct my thoughts and feelings. To me this is the great spirit—nature.”

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