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: Sophie
“I would really like to see more brands and organisations push back against the narrative that “the outdoors is a great leveler” or “nature doesn’t see race,” etc. A formal recognition of the systemic barriers that are in place when it comes to the outdoors would go some way to combating these views.” – Sophie
What’s your name?
Sophie (although my mates call me Simmo or Sims)
What are your pronouns?
How do you identify?
As someone who is very tired of society’s obsession with gender. And as very gay.
What outdoor activities are you involved in?
My first love is hiking, especially long-distance routes where you can immerse yourself in the outdoors and personal challenges for days at a time. I’m also a climber – sport and bouldering (trad is too intimidating for my mind and wallet to branch out into at the moment). I am a reluctant runner, keen bikepacker and infrequent cross-country skier. I’m a member of the local Mountain Rescue Team too.
Tell us about a favorite/memorable outdoor adventure you’ve had:
The pinnacle of my outdoor adventures so far has to be my thru hike of New Zealand’s South Island on the Te Araroa. I met amazing people and had the unexpected bonus of finding a very queer trail family (two of whom got together on the trail <3).
In your opinion, what are the most important challenges/issues facing queer people outside?
Unfortunately, the issues that exist for queer people, in general, do not disappear once we head into the countryside. There is a pervasive myth that outdoor adventures are the preserve of cisgender, heterosexual white men (and sometimes their girlfriends) and so I think being queer in the outdoors gives a sense of “otherness” that in turn leads to fears about personal safety, being treated with respect and being assumed to have a low level of knowledge, skills, and experience.
On a lighter note. The obsession that most outdoor gear companies have with gendering gear drives me wild. As a smaller person, I really wish that the “men’s” clothing sizes stretched to XS or that “women’s” clothes would come in colours other than: teal, pink, purple, and black.
As an LGBTQ+ person, if you could change one thing about the outdoor industry, what would it be?
I would really like to see more brands and organisations push back against the narrative that “the outdoors is a great leveler” or “nature doesn’t see race,” etc. A formal recognition of the systemic barriers that are in place when it comes to the outdoors would go some way to combating these views. It would also be ace to see more companies step up with scholarships, grants, etc to try to remove some of the barriers to recreating outside.
Connect with Sophie
Follow Sophie on Instagram.
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