Hipcamp proudly supports the first-ever LGBTQ Outdoor Summit (Oct 13-15 in Seattle, WA). Field Scout Roz Posley will be attending on behalf of Hipcamp and sharing her experience as a queer person of color in the outdoor space. This is her story. Thanks for sharing, Roz! More information on the LGBTQ Outdoor Summit can be found here. The early bird special for tickets ends today!
Spending time outdoors should always be an opportunity to sit back, relax, and enjoy the natural world. Philosophers like Henry David Thoreau, Rachel Carson, John Muir, and many others advised humans to get outdoors and interact with the natural world. In fact, they found the outdoors to be a safe haven. Nonetheless, for people who identify as LGBTQ, enjoying the outdoors isn’t always easy. As a queer polyamorous person of color, I have first hand experience feeling outcasted, afraid, and judged while attempting to explore the outdoors. However, with years of experience, excessive research skills, and outdoor organizations who are aware of the lack of LGBTQ inclusion, it’s possible to have a good time!
Growing up I was always outside. I loved playing in the mud, rolling in the grass, going to camp, and catching (and releasing) fireflies! So naturally, as I’ve gotten older I’ve developed the habit of forcing every romantic partner I have to fall in love with nature too. Though I have to admit, in some cases it isn’t easy. About three years ago my partner Lo and I worked at a sleepaway camp in West Virginia. As a child I attended the camp and I believed it to be a safe space. Two months into working at the camp we found that it actually wasn’t very welcoming of us. After taking a step back and observing our behaviors, we struggled with determining the issue. In time we realized the microaggressions were direct results of our race and our sexual orientation. When we came to that conclusion we decided to leave camp a month early. Once we left camp we returned home to DC but, we then found ourselves craving to get back outside. So we went on a 19 state road trip to Colorado.
On our road trip we really figured out the the up’s and down’s of being queer people of color (QPOC) outdoors. Now, keep in mind earlier in this journal I stated that I liked being outdoors, I never stated that I was an outdoor guru! So, during that first road trip Lo and I learned a lot along the way (literally)! We learned to set up tents, build fires in the rain, sleep roadside, eat on a low budget, and have meaningful conversations with people who didn’t quite understand what it meant to be a queer person of color. In that first year of enjoying the outdoors together we came to love lakes (like the ones pictured above) and how much warmer they are compared to the ocean. But, most of all we learned that not everyone outside is anti-LGBTQ. On our trip we visited every REI we passed and in those stores almost everyone was welcoming of who we are. Honestly, we were shocked. We returned home to DC with stories to share with family and friends. A lot of our non POC friends were shocked that two queer people of color traveled and camped along the way. There is so much stigma around people of color not enjoying the outdoors that, the concept was baffling. Another question we are often asked is “weren’t you afraid?”. In truth, of course we were, especially in the beginning. Driving through the country we saw many confederate flags but, we managed to find many safe places where there were people like us. In between camping destinations we searched LGBTQ friendly areas and made it a point to stop there. When we weren’t in those places we were at state parks. Most state parks are advertised as family friendly, and for the most part they are however, there was still the occasional scowl. During our trip, similar to our sleepaway camp experience we were faced with microaggressions. In spite of this we still found joy in all the activities provided by the parks.
After our road-trip we were hooked on traveling and the outdoors. When we were preparing for our next adventure, a winter road trip through the north-east, we found Hipcamp. Within the year we found that we loved the experiences that Hipcamp provided so, I became a fieldscout. Since I’ve come on board, my family and I have developed a blog that follows our travels with Hipcamp and on our own. We touch on experiences that we have as polyamorous QPOC while being outdoors. Utilizing Hipcamp as a platform to find places to vacation has been outstanding. My partners and I spend a lot of time road tripping, field scouting, and enjoying time with our dog at beautiful sites. Hosts have been really open to our race and our sexual orientations. We’ve been welcomed to community dinners, pop culture conversations, and drinks while looking out at beautiful scenery. Of the 11 sites that we’ve visited we have never felt threatened or judged. As a Hipcamp field scout, I work very closely with hosts to learn about their land and the history behind it. I’ve had plenty of interactions with people that I thought would judge me but, their hospitality and openness dismantled my preconceived notions. As a QPOC I am very cautious of the ways in which I interact with people because, based on my identity I’m wary of judgement. However, when visiting Hipcamp sites I feel my guard let down.
As a polyamorous QPOC organizations like Hipcamp are essential to enjoying the outdoors. As online communities of LGBTQ outdoor enthusiasts grow, more platforms for connecting evolve. In the upcoming months I will be attending the LGBTQ Outdoor Summit in Seattle, Washington. For the first time outdoor advocates will be able to connect and celebrate being LGBTQ and adventurous in a collective all-inclusive event. I could not be more thrilled to be invited to share the stories that my family and I have written over the months. Three years ago an event like this is something I wouldn’t have even imagined.
Roz of Adventures with Chaco (@adventureswithchaco) will be attending the LGBTQ Outdoor Summit—the first of its kind October 13-15 in Seattle. Go meet here there! For more information on the event, check out the Facebook Page.