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: Lyla
“We need institutional level change and commitments from outdoor organizations – not just performative, surface level actions. Let’s see organizations hire BIPOC/LGBTQ+ people as editors, executives, board members. Then let’s see them listen, learn and work collaboratively to create new approaches to equity.” – Lyla
What are your pronouns?
How do you identify?
I’m a queer trans woman! 💃
What outdoor activities are you involved in?
I run, hike, backpack, skateboard, and hang out at the beach. I’ll be attempting to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail starting at the end of March!
Tell us about a favorite/memorable outdoor adventure you’ve had:
Hiking Marmot Pass in the Olympics during wildflower and huckleberry season on a crystal clear day. We were surrounded by floofy marmots popping in and out of the sun-warmed rocks. 😊❤
In your opinion, what are the most important challenges facing queer people outside?
Lack of Representation
The vast majority of faces and experiences we see in mainstream outdoor sources showcase white cisgender heterosexual people. LGBTQ+/BIPOC communities are deemed a “special interest,” instead of an ongoing focal point for development within the mainstream outdoor community.
Achieving Equity at the Institutional Level
We need institutional level change and commitments from outdoor orgs… Not just performative, surface level actions. Let’s see organizations hire BIPOC/LGBTQ+ people as editors, executives, board members… Then let’s see them listen, learn and work collaboratively to create new approaches to equity.
Truly investing in and supporting LGBTQ+/BIPOC people can and will ruffle feathers in the outdoor community. We need to support organizations who are doing the hard, unglamorous work in order to encourage others to step up to the plate.
As an LGBTQ+ person, if you could change one thing about the outdoor industry, what would it be?
I’d like to see the outdoor industry increase efforts to partner with public school districts and youth development orgs to support initiatives that provide outdoor education to youth. Wilderness therapy shouldn’t only be a behavioral intervention for some youth, or a luxury afforded to well-resourced families.
Teaching young people basic wilderness techniques like navigation strategies, how to set up a tent, and how to follow Leave No Trace principles can bolster their self-confidence, make them feel more comfortable outdoors, and inspire future exploration.
I love the AMC’s Educators Outdoors program. They train and support educators from under-resourced school districts so they can implement their own outdoor education initiatives. I want to see more resources allocated to them and LGBTQ+ youth orgs like The Venture Out Project.
Anything else to add?
I love to hear from people! If anyone ever wants to chat about being queer in the outdoors, or anything really, hit me up!
Connect with Lyla
Follow Lyla on Instagram.
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