The Wild Wanderer Spotlight Series highlights the stories of queer adventurers in their own words. We hope that by sharing these underrepresented voices, true diversity and inclusion will begin to make their way into the mainstream.
Wild Wanderer Spotlight: Jeff
“It’s just hard to think that queer folks are outside enjoying the outdoors when you don’t see anyone that looks like you. Most images you see in hiking publications, Instagram and the like all present a very heterosexual viewpoint and it can be very hard to know if others who are in the outdoors welcome queer people into that experience.” – Jeff
What are your pronouns?
How do you identify?
What outdoor activities are you involved in?
A lot of my time is focused on hiking. I’m lucky to live in New York’s Catskill Park, which offers trails and mountains just a few minutes from our home. I’m also out on the trails through the northeast, especially in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. I also enjoy backpacking and long distance backpacking trips. In the winter months I strap on the snowshoes to stay active and hit the slopes and go skiing.
Tell us about a favorite/memorable outdoor adventure you’ve had:
There have been many, but the opportunity to thru-hike the 132-mile long Northville-Placid Trail in 2020 with my husband was an awesome experience. Not only were we able to disconnect from our busy lives, but I was able to see him at his thru-hiking best since I wasn’t able to hike the Appalachian Trail with him when he did a thru-hike in 2016.
In your opinion, what are the most important challenges/issues facing queer people outside?
Safety and representation. Even as pretty average white guys, my husband and I come across uncomfortable situations with other hikers because we are a couple and it doesn’t take much to figure that out. My husband and I are always aware of how we present ourselves when hiking in unfamiliar areas or when we encounter other groups of people and while almost everything ends up being okay, we have had some uncomfortable experiences.
It’s just hard to think that queer folks are outside enjoying the outdoors when you don’t see anyone that looks like you. Most images you see in hiking publications, Instagram and the like all present a very heterosexual viewpoint and it can be very hard to know if others who are in the outdoors welcome queer people into that experience.
As an LGBTQ+ person, if you could change one thing about the outdoor industry, what would it be?
Integrating LGBTQ+ people into the industry itself and better representing the LGBTQ+ community in the messaging, marketing and advertising of the outdoor industry.
Anything else to add?
I was lucky to grow up with a Dad who was able to teach me about the importance and value of the outdoors and that introduction is something that has truly influenced my personal and professional life. Today, I co-own an outdoor guiding business with my husband and I am the Executive Director of a nonprofit organization that protects the Catskill Mountain region in New York – where I get to live, work and play in the mountains and where my Dad first introduced me to the great outdoors.
Connect with Jeff
Follow Jeff on Instagram.
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