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: Shanita
“I think that far too often the queer community is not represented in nature and can face some barriers to entry. I can also relate to this as a POC. Representation is so important and can be self-affirming, create feelings of belonging and even help alleviate some fears around feelings of acceptance and safety.” – Shanita
What are your pronouns?
How do you identify?
A queer and poly human
What outdoor activities are you involved in?
I find my time in nature to be deeply healing and restorative. I love having the opportunity to explore beautiful landscapes and enjoy many types of outdoor activities. Some of my favorites are walking and hiking with my partner Nikki and our pup Biv, camping, climbing trees, canoeing and rafting, riding bikes (love bike camping and want to do more this year), snowboarding, and outdoor yoga.
Over the past year, I learned technical skills for snow mountain climbing (trained to summit Mt. Hood) and learned to do some paddleboarding. I am super excited to do more mountain climbing and paddleboarding. They both are super fun. I just love to try new things and grateful for the opportunity to connect more with nature in various ways.
Tell us about a favorite/memorable outdoor adventure you’ve had:
One of my most special and memorable outdoor adventures was when I had the opportunity to climb Mt. Hood. I was selected as a cast member in a documentary where I, along with three other awesome humans from the LGBTQ community, trained to summit Mt. Hood and share our personal stories about obstacles that we have overcome. We did an alpine start at the base of the mountain and it was magical.
I did not make it to the summit but I am truly proud of how far I made it. It was one of the most challenging and rewarding outdoor adventures I have ever had. Once I left the group and was on my descent down the mountain. I paused for a moment to soak it all in. The quiet, the peacefulness, the raw beauty…it was such an incredible gift to witness and an honor to have the opportunity to be there. Tears of deep gratitude came and I just allowed myself to be completely present and savior the moment. Gah, what an incredible gift indeed.
In your opinion, what are the most important challenges/issues facing queer people outside?
I think that far too often the queer community is not represented in nature and can face some barriers to entry. I can also relate to this as a POC. Representation is so important and can be self-affirming, create feelings of belonging and even help alleviate some fears around feelings of acceptance and safety.
Some media still helps to perpetuate the fallacy that only white, heterosexuals enjoy the outdoors and from this perspective, they also dominate most outdoor activities. With this fallacy, feelings of not belonging and or not feeling safe or welcomed can occur.
As an LGBTQIA+ person, if you could change one thing about the outdoor industry, what would it be?
I would love to see more diversity in the outdoor industry. More representation from members of all marginalized communities especially the LBGTQIA+ communities as well as more POCs.
Do you have anything else to add?
Nature is for everyone and is an amazing gift to be shared and cherished.
Connect with Shanita
Follow Shanita on Instagram.
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