The Wild Wanderer Spotlight Series highlights the stories of queer adventurers in their own words. We hope that by sharing these underrepresented voices, outdoor diversity and inclusivity will flourish. You are not alone.
Wild Wanderer Spotlight: Jen
“The moment the sun rose above the clouds was almost a spiritual experience – my wife and I both felt emotional as we thought how lucky we were to be in this place at this time, able to witness such a beautiful gift from Mother Earth.” – Jen
What are your pronouns?
How do you identify?
What outdoor activities are you involved in?
One of the biggest lessons 2020 taught me was how much freedom the outdoors can give us. And you don’t have to go far to appreciate it! My wife and I spent more time outdoors exploring our own country in 2020 than we had ever before. Hiking, watching a good sunrise with a warm cup of coffee, stargazing, and just enjoying the warm feeling of the sun on my skin are a few of our favorite outdoor activities.
Tell us about a favorite/memorable outdoor adventure you’ve had:
For my 30th birthday, we went to visit Maui, which is an incredible outdoor destination on its own! My favorite memory from the trip was watching sunrise from the top of Haleakala volcano in Haleakala National Park. To get there before sunrise, we woke up at 2:30 am to start the dark, winding drive from sea level up to the summit, which looms over the island at 10,000 feet. As we gained elevation, the temperature slowly dropped to a chilly 32 degrees. We had to wrap ourselves in towels from the hotel to stay warm! Not too long after we arrived, a sliver of warm light appeared on the horizon, growing steadily as the clock ticked towards sunrise. The stars faded away and were replaced with bright golden light. The moment the sun rose above the clouds was almost a spiritual experience – my wife and I both felt emotional as we thought how lucky we were to be in this place at this time, able to witness such a beautiful gift from Mother Earth.
In your opinion, what are the most important challenges/issues facing queer people outside?
One of the things I love about the outdoors is the wide open spaces devoid from other people – it’s the ultimate freedom to be yourself. Unfortunately, to get to these beautiful places, it often involves traveling through remote, and typically more conservative, areas. I’ve felt nervous showing PDA with my wife on more than one occasion when passing through small towns en route to a national park.
As an LGBTQIA+ person, if you could change one thing about the outdoor industry, what would it be?
I think almost all industries have an opportunity to be more welcoming to minority communities, including queer folks, women, and people of color. The outdoor industry is no exception to that! Representation and inclusive policies are the first step.
Do you have anything else to add?
As we build a community of queer outdoor enthusiasts, bloggers, and influencers, I think it’s important to support each other and continue working to create the positive and inclusive spaces we’re looking for.
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