Hipcamp Field Scout Roz Posley recently attended the highly anticipated LGBTQ Outdoor Summit in Seattle. The Summit was organized by Elyse Rylander of Out There Adventures and Hannah Malvin of Pride Outside, two friends from separate coasts brought together by their time outdoors. Roz spoke on the panel, “The Mountains Are Calling, But How Do We Answer; A Panel on LGBTQ Barriers to Accessing the Outdoors,” and co-lead a breakout group on “The Next Generations,” which started conversations on ways to improve the outdoors for LGBTQ youth. Here’s her recap of the weekend!
During the months leading up to the Summit I was beyond excited for a weekend of LGBTQ folk coming together and talking about our experience outdoors. On the first day of the event when I finally walked in the doors of REI’s conference room my heart overflowed with joy. There was so much love and excitement in the space, words wouldn’t ever do the experience justice. The sold out LGBTQ Summit was in full effect and I couldn’t wait to jump in! After I took a few more looks around and a reflective 5 second deep breath, I began a day that unfolded into a moving, touching and overall educational experience. I’ve put together a list of some paramount things that were addressed during the Summit. Any outdoor enthusiast should consider these topics when adventuring and in their everyday lives.
Myself talking on the Breaking Barriers panel.
While sitting on the Panel for Breaking Barriers panelist were asked a lot of questions in regards to discrimination as a LGBTQ identified person. Of the questions we were asked I really valued being asked, “Do you feel compelled to hide your LGBTQ identity when you’re outdoors?” The question really struck a chord with me because I felt like it was a question that had an inevitable answer, at least for me. My response was somewhere along the lines of: In spaces where I don’t always feel safe, of course I feel compelled to hide my identity as a queer identified person. However, because I’m a person with multiple intersectionalities it’s impossible to hide. I can’t change the color of my skin and as a Black person outdoors I’m already a target. I also am a polyamorous person so not only would I be hiding my sexuality I would also be hiding my practice of ethical non-monogamy.
At the Summit attendees grappled with ideas on how to make spaces more inclusive of people with multiple intersectionalities outdoors. In our discussion a few simple solutions were commonly mentioned such as, being conscious of privilege, hiring LGBTQ folk in higher up positions, and creating large safe spaces that are also diverse.
A photo of the LGBTQ POC Break Out Group
The Summit gathered people from many different backgrounds, experiences, and locations. Whether an LGBTQ identified person or an ally each person came to the Summit representing something entirely different. There were people representing The Girl Scouts of America, The National Parks, independent private schools, museums, Hipcamp (me!), universities, and many others. It was moving to experience the Summit creating a platform for folk to come together and talk about ways to enhance LGBTQ communities outdoors and in the workplace or both. Many people at the Summit had valuable information about organizations, programs, and job openings for those who identify as LGBTQ. Everyone’s voice held value in a space that was very welcoming to different identities. It’s essential that as outdoor enthusiast we make space for those who don’t always have the opportunity to share their experiences.
Something that was really fundamental about this LGBTQ Summit was that the organizers scheduled time for LGBTQ identified people to meet separately from their allies, then it created a space for LGBTQ identified people of color and LGBTQ white people to meet separately in those groups. During that break out time people of color had the opportunity to share how our experiences are unique to us and the challenges that come with being a person of color outdoors. White people were able to converse about privilege and ways to be an ally for people of color while adventures and exploring outdoors. The Summit tailored to everyone’s identity and provided space that doesn’t commonly exist. It was my first time experiencing POC being able to come together without non POC complaining about “reverse racism” or feeling “left out.” The organizers were very upfront about the space that they intentionally wanted to create and that was awesome!
The Next Generation Break Out Group
Over and over the issue with the term “outdoorsy” was brought up. Stereotypically outdoor enthusiast have all the expensive gear, are really fit, “they don’t just car camp, they real camp,” backpack, hike, climb, kayak, etc. The issue is all of those things come with privilege. The summit addressed the cost of gear, lack of free time, body type, ableism, and outdoor experience comparison. Attendees talked about the importance of including different types of outdoor enthusiast under the “outdoorsy” umbrella. In my breakout group, co-lead with Elyse Rylander we began to expand on concepts of the “outdoors.”
Our group analyzed the outdoors in depth, in small groups we created a list of everyday experiences and places that qualify as being outdoors. We talked about picnics, eating lunch in the park, homelessness, dancing in the rain, Black folks having cookouts, growing up on a farm, taking a field trip to the pumpkin patch and many other things. It’s important for others to feel confident in what they have the ability to experience outdoors rather than comparing what someone does outdoors as being more or less “outdoorsy.”
Glendale Sheep Farm Entrance
By beginning to address some very large issues, LGBTQ outdoor enthusiast were able to find solidarity in one another at the LGBTQ Summit. I noticed there were moments when not everyone agreed but, that’s the beauty in learning and having meaningful conversations. As a Hipcamp fieldscout I also shared the benefits of a company like Hipcamp getting out in front and providing LGBTQ folk with safe spaces to enjoy nature. In fact, after the Summit my partners and I took a ferry to Whidbey Island and experienced a beautiful Hipcamp with other people of color at Glendale Sheep Farm. It was wonderful that we left the Summit on such a high and transitioned to another great experience that reinforced everything that we had shared in the days before.
For us the Summit was a breath of fresh air in the midst of times when it’s hard to breathe. I returned back to the East Coast feeling extremely grateful that Hipcamp choose to send me to the LGBTQ Outdoor Summit. The first LGBTQ Summit did exactly what it was meant to do, feel LGBTQ folks hearts with joy, remind us that we aren’t alone, and when nature calls we are queer to answer!
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