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: Utah Rainbow Hikers (Ariel, Chris, & Brett)
“These hikes can bring up tears for some of our hikers because being with community and feeling seen is something we all are looking for in this life.” – Utah Rainbow Hikers (Ariel, Chris, & Brett)
What are your pronouns?
How do you identify?
Brett (gay man)
Chris (non-binary, femme)
Ariel (queer, femme)
What outdoor activities are you involved in?
Hiking! But also we partner with other queer outdoor groups to connect our hikers to other groups and activities.
Tell us about a favorite/memorable outdoor adventure you’ve had:
Every hike we’ve hosted since April 2021 has been such a fulfilling, affirming, and joyful experience with our community. From our return Rainbow Hikers to our first timers, we get comments about how this may be their first time being out as themselves in a group of other queer people. These hikes can bring up tears for some of our hikers because being with a community and feeling seen is something we all are looking for in this life. Having peers talk about how our queer identities impact our day-to-day lives is suicide prevention and necessary in so many ways.
In your opinion, what are the most important challenges/issues facing queer people outside?
For many queer and trans folks, there is an overwhelming sense of stress that they carry on their shoulders day to day. This is due to common experiences of discrimination, microaggressions, and violence. Being able to go on a trail by yourself without fearing for your personal safety is a privilege, and for many folks who are not hetero-or-cis normative in their gender expression or relationship dynamics, this is a very real risk. Outside of these experiences, representation of queer people in the outdoors is still very slim, which dictates who deserves to access these spaces and who doesn’t. Representation affects funding opportunities, policy changes, and access.
As an LGBTQ2IA+ person, if you could change one thing about the outdoor industry, what would it be?
Representation! The more we see queer and trans people in the outdoor industry thriving, the more outdoor retail companies will think about their own marketing and what products they’re offering (gender inclusive outdoor clothing, policies, restrooms), and the more national parks will recognize the access limitations that they perpetuate, and the more the general public will become exposed to LGBTQ+ identities and expressions as normalized and part of the broader diversity of human experience.
Do you have anything else to add?
Utah Rainbow Hikers was created because we wanted to create community and enjoy hiking! Because of COVID, many people felt isolated and many of the resources and programming in Utah are tailored toward therapy and support groups but less about social community gatherings focused on wellness and health. We hope this group continues to be where both LGBTQ+ people and our allies feel safe to enjoy the outdoors and find community.
Discover More Outdoor Diversity and Inclusivity
Follow Utah Rainbow Hikers on Instagram.
This article is part of our Trailblazer program.
Backpackers.com Affiliate Policy: This article may contain affiliate links, which help fund our website. When you click on the links to purchase the gear, we get a commission, and this goes a long way to creating guides, gear reviews, and other excellent content.