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Pride 2021: A Special Series Celebrating Nonprofits Working for Inclusivity

Every day in June we're highlighting organizations that advocate for greater outdoor access.

June 21: Get Out and Trek

Introducing the Outdoor Equality Index.

Get Out and Trek started as a community group and advocacy organization that leads adventures for LGBTQ+ outdoor enthusiasts all over North America. Its members still do, but the group has also launched a unique and important initiative with its Outdoor Equality Index (OEI), which tracks how outdoor brands are engaging with the LGBTQ+ community.

The OEI is an annual survey that strives to provide “transparency on the outdoor industry’s engagement with the LGBTQ+ community,” with the aim that the industry will use this data to drive strategies around authentic engagement with the queer community—and not just because the LGBTQ+ community represents $1.3 trillion in spending power that has largely been overlooked.

The inaugural survey just closed in May, and findings will be released soon. Major brands such as REI and Patagonia participated, as did nonprofits like American Hiking Society. You can find out more about the OEI and support it here.

June 20: The Out Foundation

Creating a more inclusive and diverse fitness experience.

Fairly or unfairly, many gyms and Crossfit studios have a reputation for competitive, macho-minded aggression. And that perception is keeping people from accessing resources that help them get healthy and find community. The Out Foundation aims to change that reality.

The foundation’s mission is to “remove the barriers that block LGBTQ+ individuals’ access and participation in fitness, health, and wellness, ensuring their success.” One of its most generous and notable programs is Out Athlete, which funds one year of Crossfit memberships for LGBTQ+ young people. Beyond the membership, The Out Foundation also provides aspiring fitness enthusiasts with weekly goals, nutrition counseling, and even apparel discounts. To support each participant, the Out Foundation spends roughly $4,665. You can donate here.

Another unique initiative is the Out Athletics program, which hosts inclusive workouts at fitness facilities around the globe. Every workout is designed to engage all participants whether novice or professional. You can find a workout here.

June 19: Trans Yoga Teacher

Creating body-positive safe spaces for LGBTQ+ folx in yoga.

Walking into a yoga studio for the first time can be very intimidating. You tend to see fit people in stylish yoga attire, and everybody seems to know the routine and lingo except you. What is meant for relaxation and mindfulness becomes an anxiety producing event. This is especially true for queer and trans folx.

Allé, a trans yogi, aims to change that with Trans Yoga Teacher, which offers body-positive and queer-friendly spaces within yoga. Classes are beginner-friendly and often focus on meditation for restoration and healing. Not only do they teach classes in person and online, but they also host trainings to work with yoga studios and foster trans-inclusive spaces.

Because many in the LGBTQ+ face additional financial hardships, whether from job discrimination or medical costs for gender-affirming care, Allé is raising funds to underwrite participation in their classes. Find out more here.

June 18: Unlikely Hikers

Redefining who is “outdoorsy.”

Unlikely Hikers is a group that exists to challenge the extremely narrow public perception of who is outdoorsy. An Instagram community in the virtual world with in-person group hikes, it defines itself as “a diverse, anti-racist, body-liberating outdoor community featuring the underrepresented outdoorsperson.”

Founded by Jenny Bruso, Unlikely Hikers does much more than just offer group hikes. With Bruso’s leadership and support from Gregory Packs, the group created the first-ever line of Plus Size Backpacks to ensure that all bodies can hike and enjoy the outdoors with the gear they need. Bruso has also been a vocal advocate for activewear that is both fashionable and available for all body sizes and types. There’s even a collab hiking boot with Merrell that’s available in a wide range of sizes and widths.

Unlikely Hikers also has a podcast that provides a platform from those often not heard from in the outdoor space. Support the mission and/or join the group by following along on Instagram and donating here.

June 17: Queer Nature

Mentoring, healing, and workshops in natural skills.

Indigenous cultures have a long history of celebrating queer and gender non-conforming members of their community. They were often viewed as community leaders and looked to for their wisdom and ability to offer perspectives from both the masculine and feminine points of view.

Founded by Pınar and So Sinopoulos-Lloyd, Queer Nature draws on this rich indigenous history of celebrating and uplifting queer voices. It aims to create “ecological awareness and place-based skills as vital and often overlooked parts of the healing and wholing of populations who have been marginalized and even represented as ‘unnatural.’”

The focus is less on outdoor recreation, as these activities are often not safe spaces for LGBTQ+ individuals. Instead, the group bases its curriculum on naturalist knowledge, wilderness and survival skills, natural crafts, and other nature-centered skills as a way to reclaim the outdoors for queer folx. Workshops take place in the Mountain West and Pacific Northwest.

You can donate to support Queer Nature’s efforts here.

June 16: LGBTQ+ Outdoors

A one-stop shop for everything LGBTQ+ and the outdoors.

From an outdoors festival to how-to videos to a comprehensive guide to LBGTQ+ campgrounds and guiding outfits, LGBTQ+ Outdoors is a great resource when planning your next road trip or adventure. If there’s an event or festival you don’t want to miss, you’ll find it here.

Case in point: This September, the largest LGBTQ+ campground in Texas, the Rainbow Ranch, will host LGBTQ+ Outdoorfest. The festival packs all the fun of a summer camp for adults into one weekend, offering workshops on everything from nature photography and fly fishing to birding and archery. Other events include family dinners, bonfires, yoga, and fireside chats with guides and instructors.

Throughout the rest of the year, LGBTQ+ Outdoors is a treasure trove of content for members of the queer community looking to get into the outdoors. LGBTQ+ Live hosts conversations around everything from being gay parents in the outdoors to what it is like to come out as a wilderness guide.

To get notified about new stories and events, sign up for the newsletter here.

June 15: OUTrun

Building a nationwide network for LGBTQ+ runners.

Since the first jogger laced up the first pair of Nikes, there have been three consistent barriers that keep people from running: weather, safety, and lack of community. Denver-based OUTrun can’t make the sun shine, but it is working hard at solving the other two issues by creating running meet-ups where LGBTQ+ runners feel welcome, safe, and supported as they find their way in the sport.

OUTrun was co-founded by professional runners and LGBTQ+ couple Addie Bracy and Corey Conner, who found confidence in their own identities through running. They were inspired to create the organization to provide other queer runners this same empowering space. A growing national network of ambassadors serves as community organizers, coordinating group runs and serving as a resource for fellow LGBTQ+ athletes.

The website inspires direct outreach from runner to runner, as well as connections to the individual ambassadors. You can also get involved by reaching out directly to info@outrunning.org.

June 14: RIDE Group

Creating a cycling community where people can simply be themselves.

Founded by trans athlete and longtime cycling industry pro Molly Cameron, Riders Inspiring Diversity and Equality (RIDE) is a newly formed organization that aims to become a leading resource for the cycling industry to build a more inclusive culture for the LGBTQ+ community.

In addition to Cameron, RIDE’s team includes lawyer and DEI expert Christine Kalkschmid, professor and ethics expert Dr. Cara Gillis, and organizer/policy expert Vivian Satterfield. Drawing from their collective expertise, RIDE will interface with the outdoor sports industry to break down barriers for LGBTQ+ athletes through education, training, assessments, and the development and implementation of strategic action plans.

Right now, RIDE is seeking funds to get this organization up and running for long-term success. Lend your support here.

June 13: OUTVentures

Providing LGBTQ+ hiking, camping, and outdoor adventures in the Pacific Northwest.

Started by Ed Ferguson in 1994 to meet an obvious need for adventure programming unique to queer outdoor folx, OUTVentures is one of the pioneers in the LGBTQ+ outdoor world.

Its mission is to “promote a positive attitude, exemplary values, service, health, and social equality through outdoor recreation.” By creating a safe space for like-minded and queer-identifying enthusiasts, OUTVentures hopes to inspire other to set out into the wide, wild world as their authentic selves.

With trips ranging across the Pacific Northwest, OUTVentures leads everything from day hikes to camping trips to whitewater rafting. The adventures are free or low-cost to members. Join here to get in on the fun.

June 12: Wild Diversity

Fostering leadership and stewardship of our natural places in LBGTQ+ and BIPOC communities.

Making the outdoors a more welcoming place for queer adventurers is critically important, but to create real and lasting change we also need to develop a generation of leaders and teachers who represent a broader slice of the trail-going world. Wild Diversity is working to create opportunities for BIPOC and LGBTQ+ enthusiasts to step into leadership by hosting outdoor adventures and educational workshops that build knowledge, confidence, and stewardship skills.

Serving the greater Portland, Oregon area, Wild Diversity was founded by Mercy M’fon Shammah. She brings 15 years of community-building and education experience, which helped her see that outdoor organizations should not simply welcome BIPOC and LGBTQ+ folx, but enable them to thrive and lead. To this end, Wild Diversity runs programs ranging from youth ecology classes to birding, paddling, and backpacking trips.

You can donate here to help keep costs of these programs low or free. Your contributions will go towards costs such as permits or gear purchases.

June 11: Diversify Outdoors

Pride is intersectional.

If you know the history of pride, you know that the first pride in June of 1969 was a riot against the police invasion of the Stonewall Inn, a prominent gay bar in New York City. At the time it was illegal for people to wear clothes of the opposite gender, so trans and gender non-conforming members of the community where heavily targeted by the police.

Many credit the Stonewall Inn riot being started by a black trans woman, Marsha P. Johnson. Without her, pride as we know it might not exist today. This means we can’t talk about pride without talking about all under-represented communities. This is where Diversify Outdoors comes in.

Founded by Danielle Williams, who also started the influential Melanin Basecamp publication, Diversify Outdoors is a collective of storytellers, athletes, activists and entrepreneurs dedicated to promoting diversity in the outdoors where BIPOC, LGBTQ+ and under-represented identities have traditionally been marginalized. They accomplish this through education, a CEO pledge and uplifting under-represented stories.

Actions you can take today to help make the outdoors a more diverse and inclusive space is visit their resource page to educate yourself on how to be an ally, diversify your feed by following community leaders listed on their connect page, and sign up for their newsletter to get regular updates and resources.

June 10: Capital Climbers

Meet-ups for LGBTQ+ climbers.

Starting a new sport can be intimidating, what with all the new gear, new terminology, and new skills. On top of that, there’s also the social anxiety of finding and meeting new climbing partners. For many in the LGBTQ+ community, it’s intimidating to walk into that climbing gym or up to the local crag for the first time, which is why a support network like Capital Climbers is so valuable.

Serving the greater DC metro area, Capital Climbers works to foster community and provide mentorship to new and veteran climbers alike. They offer gym meet-ups at Earth Treks in Arlington, VA and Rockville, MD as well as Sport Rock in Alexandria, VA. They also organize meet-ups at crags across the Mid-Atlantic for all ability levels.

You can join the Capital Climbers community on Facebook to see where they will be climbing next. And if you’re not in the DC area, check out these other similar groups: Quick Climb in Boston, MA, Queer Crush at Touchstone locations in California, CRUX Climbing in New York, and LGBTQ+ Climbing Nights at Petra Cliffs in Burlington, VT.

Note: Many in-person events were on pause for COVID, but are restarting as states begin to safely ease restrictions.

June 9: Venture Out Project

Pioneers in creating LGBTQ+ spaces outside.

No guide to outdoor-oriented LGBTQ+ resources and organizations is complete without the Venture Out Project. Founded by Perry Cohen in 2014, Venture Out is a true pioneer in creating safe spaces for queer folx in the outdoors.

Venture Out has a twofold mission. First, it offers experiences for LGBTQ+ outdoor enthusiasts, ranging from day hikes to wilderness backpacking, whitewater rafting, and service-oriented trips in national parks. Second, it works directly with organizations, businesses, and schools on workshops that build welcoming and identity-affirming environments for LGBTQ+ individuals in outdoor settings. Venture Out has led training sessions with industry leaders such as REI, Eddie Bauer, and Marmot.

You can get involved by attending one of their day hikes, signing up for one of their trips, or working with them on leading a workshop at your place of work.

June 8: Brave Trails

Summer camp for LGBTQ+ youth.

There is a special magic that comes with traveling as a young person. It gives you the space to truly discover, explore, and find yourself—and to learn from others from different backgrounds. For many of us, that first away-from-home experience is summer camp. And now LGBTQ+ teens have an option to enjoy a transformational experience in the great outdoors with other queer kids and counselors, thanks to Brave Trails’ summer camp.

Brave Trails is the epitome of a safe space. With two locations in the forests of California and Maryland, this residential camp hosts kids for one week with hand-picked volunteer staff who are there to be mentors and provide leadership opportunities for LGBTQ+ youth. Empowering independence and celebrating identities, Brave Trails is an LGBTQ+ centered space, where pronouns are respected and facilities are genderless.

Brave Trails also aims to provide financial assistance to campers in need, which is where your support can be felt. You can donate here. Or, if you know a young person who may want to attend, they can join the waitlist for any last minute summer 2021 slots that open up.

Looking for other outdoorsy summer camps for LGBTQ+ youth? Check out Camp Outright (VT), Camp Aranu’tiq (NH), Camp Ten Trees (WA), Camp OUTdoors (AZ), and Camp Lilac (OH).

June 7: Stamina Racing Collective

Building a better cycling community.

Founded in 2020 in Minneapolis, Stamina Racing Collective is a non-profit FTW (Femme, Trans, Women) cycling team competing in road, gravel, cyclocross, and mountain biking.

Currently, just 15% of USA Cycling registered competitors are women, and even fewer identify as BIPOC (estimates put this number at 8% to 10%). To address this, Stamina Racing Collective brings a three-tiered approach of mentorship, accessibility, and community development to break down barriers that often lead to the exclusion of these groups.

Actions can include everything from covering start-up costs of racing, with a specific focus on BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities, to publishing reports on factors that limit participation from under-represented communities, to consulting with race promoters to implement more inclusive policies at events. Through Stamina’s efforts, it has become a leading advocate for systemic change in biking racing.

To support their efforts both on and off the course, you can donate to Stamina here.

June 6: Transathlete.com

Resources and actions to support trans athletes.

Launched by groundbreaking athlete Chris Mosier, Transathlete.com is a one-stop shop for information on trans inclusion in sports. A trans man and accomplished triathlete, Mosier has broken down many barriers. He was a primary driver of change in the IOC standards regarding inclusivity in competition, and in 2015 he became the first trans man to compete against cis men in a world championship race. He’s the first known transgender athlete to compete in the Olympic trials, and he’s even graced the pages of ESPN’s Body Issue.

When not competing, Chris is an outspoken advocate for trans inclusion in sports, and Transathlete.com has aggregated for athletes and allies alike. The website offers everything from a glossary of terms to know to a state by state breakdown of policies for trans participation in sports.

Looking to take action? Visit the site’s action page to view the status of discriminatory legislation across the country and what you can do to help defeat these bills.

June 5: PFLAG

The tools you need to be an ally to LGBTQ+ friends in the outdoor and wellness communities.

Are you a parent, friend, or co-worker of a gay hiker, cyclist, yoga teacher, or fitness instructor? Have you heard their stories of feeling marginalized, excluded, or worse in settings that should be open and welcoming to all? Then PFLAG is for you.

Allyship is essential to making all sports and outdoor spaces welcoming and inclusive. The first and largest organization of its kind, PFLAG was founded to serve LGBTQ+ folx along with their parents, families, and friends. It doesn’t operate exclusively in the outdoor space, but it does offer a ton of incredible resources for people who are looking to be allies, as well as resources for those looking to come out of the closet.

Being an ally isn’t about being political, but it is about creating a space that is safe and welcoming for identities that may be different than yours. Allies take the burden off of under-represented communities to advocate for themselves, which is important whether you’re at the trailhead, in a yoga studio, or working an outdoor industry tradeshow. In spaces such as these, creating an environment where LGBTQ+ people can feel comfortable being their authentic selves will lift up the whole community and experience.

Start your ally journey, or learn new ways that you can be an even more effective ally here.

June 4: Human Rights Campaign

Fighting for policy change at the national level.

If you’re looking to become an ally of the LGBTQ+ community, the best place to start is the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). Founded in 1980 and boasting more than 3 million members, HRC is the nation’s leading advocacy organization for queer Americans. Throughout its history, HRC has played a major role in repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell,” making marriage equality the law of the land, and other initiatives.

Shockingly, even in 2021, federal law still does not protect people from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Many of our favorite places to recreate operate under state and local policies that proactively discriminate against members of the LGBTQ+ community, reducing the access and sense of belonging for the queer community.

Right now, advocates in Congress are working to pass the the Equality Act to ensure that LGBTQ+ folx are legally protected from discrimination in the workplace, housing, financing, education, and even in sports. Unfortunately, the bill is currently stalled in the Senate. Here are four easy actions you can take right now to help get it passed.

June 3: Pride Rides VT

Building community and welcoming new riders.

Rock gardens, babyheads, downed logs … mountain biking is a really tough sport for a newbie to master. Now imagine riding your first singletrack while also being the only queer rider in the crew. It can be a big challenge, especially in a rural community where support systems don’t exist.

That’s why organizations like Pride Rides VT are so important. They create space for under-represented communities to network, learn from one another, gain strength, and—yes—endo together. And this is essential in driving participation within the sports we love.

Founded by professional bike mechanic and trail advocate Kris Hunt, Pride Rides serves as a safe and welcoming opportunity for members of the LGBTQ+ community and allies to ride mountain bikes together. In addition to monthly meet-ups, Pride Rides VT leads critical mass rides in the state capital, sponsors an entry-level race team, and hosts skills clinics in partnership with Stowe Mountain Bike Academy to help queer riders progress.

Pride Rides VT is currently seeking $15,000 in donations to build a fleet of mountain bikes to help get more new riders into the sport. You can contribute here.

June 2: Pride 5K

Running to promote mental health and safety of the LGBTQ+ community.

Founded by nonbinary runner Nikki Hiltz, the Pride 5K is a virtual event to raise money for the Trevor Project. Nikki Hiltz is a six-time All-American collegiate athlete who came out as a lesbian in 2014 and non-binary this past March.

All proceeds of the virtual race, which attracted thousands of runners last year, are donated to the Trevor Project. Founded in 1998, The Trevor Project provides essential resources to the LBGTQ+ community, including guides on coming out and suicide prevention. The organization conducts important research and advocacy that is essential to saving the lives of those in the LBGTQ+ community.

A recent Trevor Project study found that 42% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, including more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth. Oftentimes this is due to harassment and bullying, or even discriminatory policies and laws that target LGBTQ+ youth.

Sign up here for the Pride 5K, which takes place on July 17. Or donate directly to the Trevor Project here.

June 1: Athlete Ally

Advocates for equal access in all sports

For many in the LGBTQ+ community, access to sports isn’t guaranteed. Thirty-two states have passed or introduced legislation that bans participation. Elsewhere, hostile coaches and locker room environments turn away LGBTQ+ athletes, denying them the opportunity to enjoy the sports they love and benefit from the fitness, community, and other benefits inherent in an active lifestyle.

Athlete Ally is the leading voice for LGBTQ+ folx in sports. Its initiatives include organizing training for coaches and teams on how to create safe spaces for LGBTQ+ athletes; commissioning studies to understand the unique barriers LGBTQ+ people in sports face; and rallying the sports community to fight back against discriminatory bills that would restrict access and limit participation.

Join the Athlete Ally community by signing its Equality Pledge: “To lead your athletic community to respect and welcome all persons, regardless of their perceived or actual sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.”