June is Pride month, and there are celebrations happening in major city centers all over the world. A small but growing number of activities is also happening throughout the most wild and natural corners of the U.S. and beyond. LGBTQ+-focused outdoor activities and safe spaces are increasing in number and visibility, and though there are more this month than ever, they are all part of a movement to promote inclusivity and representation among those who love the outdoors — and those who don’t know they love it yet.
Where to find outdoor Pride activities
The Venture Out Project
This LGBTQ+-owned company has hosted queer-specific trips since 2014. This June, it is offering a Queer & Trans, Indigenous, People of Color Backpacking Trip in Vermont and a Queer Arctic Adventure in Canada. It also offers more low-key day hikes, family trips and youth service projects.
Canyons River Company
National Outdoor Leadership School
This organization has an LGBTQ+ backpacking trip in Utah, which takes place over nine days and is led by queer instructors.
Outdoor adventures for LGBTQ+ youth
Learning in the outdoors has proven benefits for kids, including building skills and self-esteem as well as increasing performance in the classroom. A limited number of LGBTQ+-focused youth trips and activities allow youth to explore their identities and the outdoors in a safe, inclusive space.
Out There Adventures is a Seattle-based company that offers trips
led by queer instructors for LGBTQ+ youth. It is offering two Pride-focused events this summer: a rafting and service trip for teenagers in Oregon and a Yosemite trip in July.
According to one young participant of an Out There Adventures trip, “I would get these overwhelming feelings of being at home and knowing that those were some of the only moments in my life where I was 100 percent sure that I was in the right place and 100 percent sure that it was something that I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I would be willing to do things to keep myself in good health and motivated and educated in order to achieve those feelings over and over and over.”
Events in your own backyard
If you don’t have the interest or ability to attend a far-flung trip to celebrate Pride, you can focus locally on ways to get outside and active. Many cities have 5K runs, walks or dance events as part of their Pride festivities. This can be a great way to get fresh air and exercise, especially for people who get their motivation from community members or a loud bass line instead of a babbling brook.
Research your local gym and see if it is hosting any Pride events, like Homoclimbtastic in West Virginia. If the gyms near you are not hosting an event, speak up and ask why not. The more interest they hear, the more likely they are to consider adding something to the calendar next year.
Check out MeetUp.com to find groups of like-minded people in your area. There might already be an LGBTQ+-focused outdoor group near you. If not, create one yourself!
How to be eco-friendly at Pride parades
The Seattle-based organization OUT For Sustainability aims to make Pride events around the country carbon-neutral and zero waste. Follow the organization’s Greener Pride tips for a more sustainable celebration:
• Bring your own water bottle to the parade.
• Bring a reusable bag to collect promotional items.
• Make a colorful outfit from items you already own instead of buying a new outfit. Better yet, make a costume out of recycled materials.
• Avoid balloons, glitter and beads. These plastic items are toxic for the environment and detrimental to marine species. Celebrate without them. Instead, try natural body paint, flowers and recycled art.
• As a vendor, remove all trash at the end of the day. Do not serve food in plastic foam containers, and offer water for people with refillable bottles.
• Reduce or refuse handouts and promotional items, especially plastic items.
• Avoid handing out or taking cheap T-shirts that support the unsustainable and unethical fashion industry.
• Run your Pride float with electric vehicles or human power instead of diesel fuel.
Tips for outdoor companies to be more inclusive
Visibility and representation matter
LGBTQ+ folks often do not see themselves represented in outdoor brands or websites. Consider your staff and models, and come up with a specific plan about how you will incorporate more identities. Don’t promote people just for the sake of diversity — promote and hire LGBTQ+ staff, models and managers because they are qualified and will inspire a broader audience.
“We need to put people from these communities out in the forefront, not because they represent diversity but because they’re great at what they do,”
said Elyse Rylander, founder of Out There Adventures. “We don’t have enough roundtables with people who are not white, cisgender dudes talking about their badass outdoor experiences. But we should.”
Host LGBTQ+ events
If you host trips or events, consider adding LGBTQ+-focused activities. You might take for granted feeling safe and included on hiking trips, but discrimination excludes many people from participating. It’s great to host an event during Pride month, but this is something that matters year-round.
Participate in a Pride parade
Walk the route or make a float. It can be a great way to show that you care about and serve all types of customers and clients.
Manufacture gender-neutral gear
Active gear for all genders should come in all color palettes and target all body types.
LGBTQ+ outdoor advocates to follow on social media
There are many advocates and activists focusing on bridging the gaps between queer folks and the great outdoors. Here are a few amazing leaders to follow on social media:
A play on the “Patagonia” brand name, @PattieGonia is the self-proclaimed first nature drag queen. Pattie advocates for a more inclusive outdoor industry and takes fabulous photos that combine drag fashion with outdoor gear and awe-inspiring locations. Pattie is also offering LGBTQ+ hikes in a few cities around the U.S. during the month of June.
A non-binary duo in Colorado founded @queernature to educate people about deeper connections to nature using both queer and indigenous philosophy and leadership.
Jenny Bruso set out to change the stereotype of what an “outdoorsy” person looks like. @unlikelyhikers’s posts promote diversity and inclusivity in all forms, focusing primarily on body diversity and queerness.
Via New York Times