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: Natasha
“There can be something quite spiritual about immersing yourself in the outdoors, handing over your anxieties, and reconnecting to your most wild self. Since reconnecting with the outdoors, I have definitely benefited from this and have become braver in every aspect of my life because of it.” – [name]
What are your pronouns?
How do you identify?
I identify as queer, gay or lesbian.
What outdoor activities are you involved in?
Hiking, rambling, wild swimming, camping and I’m starting kayaking and rock climbing later this year.
Tell us about a favorite/memorable outdoor adventure you’ve had:
I have so many! Growing up we were always outside, and it’s been fun to make time to reconnect with that during the COVID-19 lockdowns. The thing is, I never get home from being outdoors and think that was a waste of time. There is so much out there and some of it is right on our doorstep.
One of my favourite things to do has been to visit a field of cows about a ten-minute walk from my home. As I kept going back, they got used to me I guess and would come over and let me get close enough to pet them. They were so funny fighting for attention and would follow me along the fence when I started walking away. I have a slight obsession now and am happy to say that after many years of being vegetarian I have now become vegan.
Traveling has always been close to my heart and I have had amazing opportunities to explore all over the world. About six years back I climbed up Grouse Mountain in Vancouver and went on the zip-line course at the top. Skimming over clear waters, passing over canyons and soaring to great heights in and above the trees, was AMAZING. The line reached 80km/hr, but there was still a chance to take in the views of the surrounding mountains and city. Most of the time, the outside demands nothing other than you to pay attention to it, however sometimes it demands you to be brave and almost surrender to the power it holds. When I was on the zip-line I felt that. With only a rope and carabiner stopping me from plummeting to the ground, I had no choice but to let go of fear and enjoy the experience.
In your opinion, what are the most important challenges/issues facing queer people outside?
Feeling safe. It’s so frustrating that the outdoors can be another place where minorities are at risk. It isn’t the environment itself that puts us at risk but the people within it. Sadly, I have had quite a few situations that have made me uncomfortable. Now I let someone know where I am, how long I am planning to be there, and when I get home. I also try to stick to quiet public places when I am exploring on my own and then go on wilder routes with other people. It helps me to relax and enjoy the adventure a bit more knowing I have taken these precautions.
As an LGBTQ+ person, if you could change one thing about the outdoor industry, what would it be?
To get more LGBTQ+ people involved!
I find it really refreshing to connect to other people within our community in an environment that isn’t centered around alcohol. You can form meaningful friendships and discover so much about who you are. There can be something quite spiritual about immersing yourself in the outdoors, handing over your anxieties and reconnecting to your most wild self. Since reconnecting with the outdoors, I have definitely benefited from this and have become braver in every aspect of my life because of it.
Anything else to add?
I live with chronic pain and multiple invisible illnesses. Some days are better than others. If I have a bad run of flare-ups, it can feel like ages between each hike/ramble. I have been at war with my body for many years as it doesn’t always do what my mind wants it to. Over these past few months, I have taken so much time to make peace with it. I think a huge influence of that is connecting with the cycles of the natural world. Nothing in nature happens quickly and there are times of obvious growth and rest. Due to my pain, I don’t always have the energy to explore for long periods of time and THAT IS OKAY. With the pressure off, I have benefited so much more from any time outdoors.
My advice to anyone who wants to explore more but feels a bit nervous about starting:
- Start small.
- Go somewhere you feel safe and go a little further each time.
- Stop comparing yourself to others on social media. Your adventures don’t need to be validated by anyone.
- Find ways to connect to your inner WILD and don’t let anyone take that away from you.
- Find the things that make you happy, keep doing them, and invite others do to them, too.
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