Unlikely Outdoors Issue 02

A monthly digest of news, resources, things I like and whatever I want usually regarding diversity, inclusion and representation in the outdoors. Yeah, this is biased AF.

Compiled with love by, @JennyBruso, founder of @UnlikelyHikers.

Issue no. 2 – March 1, 2018

Welcome to the second issue of Unlikely Outdoors! I was inspired to start this newsletter because it can be difficult finding news and resources regarding issues of diversity in the outdoors. Thank you to everyone who read the first issue and shared it in their feeds. If you’d like notifications for the newsletter, sign up on the menu tool bar above to follow (yes, even if you did in the past. I had problems with the service I was using).

Content is newest to oldest with an emphasis on newer resources, but I also include things I’ve recently found even if they’re long past their publishing date. Lots of queer stuff this month which is kind of unusual. Maybe, manifestation is real!

Wanna help? Send me anything you come across along the lines of these issues or even just interesting outdoors stories and things that expand our minds in any way and a special request for body-positive media and interesting queer stuff: thejennybruso@gmail.com.

Thank you for reading and please share with your networks xo



LGBTQ+ Adventurers Are All About Getting Out in the Woods

By, Emily Zak featuring The Venture Out Project for Sierra Club | February 27, 2018

So happy for my friends at The Venture Out Project and all of the attention they’ve been getting for their great work. I especially love the first sentence of this “Amie Freetly was the first to take the plunge…” Amie is one of my fave people to hike with and that sentence captures their spirit so well.

Cohen started Venture Out at age 38, shortly after he transitioned, to build a safe outdoors community for LGBTQ+ people. He envisioned trips like this one in Olympic National Park, where people could enjoy wild places without having to worry about being called the wrong pronoun or whether they squatted to pee. He also wanted to demonstrate that the push for diversity and respect for community in the outdoors must include LGBTQ+ folks.



I Would But: I Am the Only Person of Color

Ambreen Tariq of Brown People Camping for REI | February 22, 2018

This article made me so emotional! Ambreen’s work is so important to me.

And please don’t disregard my discomfort with being a minority in the outdoors as a personal flaw that is unique to someone who is overly racially sensitive. Needing community and empathy is part of the human condition.



The Healing of a Community Begins With its Women: an Interview with Jolie Varela of Indigenous Women Hike

By, Georgie Abel featuring Jolie Varela of Indigenous Women Hike | February 21, 2018

A lot of people in the outdoor community may not want to believe that recreation is political, but it absolutely is. Every National Park holds the creation stories, burial grounds, and ceremonies of Indigenous people. We are the first stewards of the land. Understand the price that Indigenous people have paid and still pay for your recreation. It might be uncomfortable to hear this at first. But I promise you, if you really decide to hear us, you’ll be able to feel a whole new connection to the places that are sacred to all of us.



Video – Oregon Field Guide – Unlikely Hikers: A Hiking Group For the Rest of Us

Oregon Field Guide featuring Jenny Bruso & Unlikely Hikers | February 15, 2018

Without a doubt, one of the best things I’ve ever been a part of. Life goal! OFG is one of my favorite shows and I can barely believe I was in it.

When I started hiking I had a lot to learn. I didn’t know what to wear, what to bring. I did a lot of online research but (it) was always written in this way that assumed the reader was already very comfortable in the outdoors and knew what certain gear even was, and I had to learn by a lot of trial and error. 



Camp Chat: Elyse Rylander of OUT There Adventures

By, Shawnte Salabert featuring Elyse Rylander of OUT There Adventures | February 14, 2018

“As queer people we are told implicitly and explicitly over and over again that we are unnatural,’” says Rylander. “However, we see in nature myriad ways in which queerness is actually extremely natural. From the simple fact that one cannot travel in a straight line (for there are always twists and turns in the trail, stones and roots to step over, or the push and pull of the tides) to the immense diversity in which animals and plants shift their relational and reproductive roles, the natural world is the perfect place to see a queer identity reflected.”



Giving Mountains Back Their Indigenous Names

By, Len Necefer of Natives Outdoors for Outside Magazine | February 13, 2018

Congratulations to Len Necefer of NativesOutdoors on this fantastic article! It is a joy seeing his work get the recognition it deserves. Indigenous Geotags is honestly one of my favorite accounts to follow on instagram.

“The creation of the first national parks, like Yellowstone and Glacier, was predicated on the forced removal of indigenous populations from these areas,” says Necefer. “It created this myth that these are untouched wilderness areas.”



The Epic Journey to Becoming Akuna the Thru-Hiker

By, Will “Akuna” Robinson for The Trek | February 11, 2018

This person is so special. We followed Akuna’s PCT trek on Unlikely Hikers last year and we all got so attached to him! He’ll be regularly documenting his next trek on the Appalachian Trail for The Trek! He starts soon.

The amazing hikers and trail angels who I encountered showed me so much love that my anxiety decreased and I craved more social interactions. In nature, I learned to manage my depression and anger, which in turn boosted my confidence. The dread I felt thinking about the future evaporated and for the first time in what seemed like forever, I could see the joy in life. The next year I stood in the same spot at the southern terminus a completely different man.



Rwenzori Mountains – Self-Care Break

By, Tyrhee Moore | February 9, 2018 | tyrheemoore.com

Loved this beautiful blog post from Tyrhee Moore. The photos are unreal.

…what made this climb more significant than most was the feeling of being the majority. To be on a mountain, in a wild space and not feel like my existence needed to be explained. It was unusual to not question my moment in space, not having to wonder if someone was staring at me unknowingly from behind; odd to no longer be one the few folks who went into their tent at night a shade of purple because our sunscreen wasn’t the most absorbent.



I’m a Latina Who Hikes

By, Victoria Alicia | February 7, 2018

I’m a Latina who hikes. These words still sound foreign to me, as if someone else has entered my body and scrambled on rocks these past four years. I only ventured on my first hike on a random day to appease a friend that was visiting me from another country. I have long hated the repetitive motions of walking on the treadmill but somehow remaining in the same place from which I began. When I got on a trail for the first time, I had to be aware of ever-changing surroundings, and the thought of skipping a marker and making a wrong turn made me nervous and eager to continue on the path. The idea that I could learn how to read a map, use a compass and gain survival skills made me believe that I could somehow also endure a zombie apocalypse. I was hooked from day one.



Podcast – Queer Out Here – Issue 01 | February 7, 2018

New podcast exploring the outdoors from a queer perspective. This episode features Travis Clough of The Venture Out Project and Elyse Rylander of OUT There Adventures!



Why I Got Off the Pacific Crest Trail After 454 Miles Instead of Walking All the Way to Canada

By, Vanessa Friedman for Autostraddle | February 5, 2018

THIS ARTICLE IS THE ONE TO READ! I am super proud of my friend and um, wouldn’t you know that some of the responses to it were not so hot? I guess death threats for calling out toxic masculinity and sexism in thru-hiking culture seems pretty legit. Not.

I’m scared to say it out loud, embarrassed I let it get to me, unsure I want to make myself a spokeswoman for this particular issue. And yet, every time I do speak this truth, other hikers come forward and say, ‘I felt that way too.’ They sigh in relief that someone is naming this problem. And so I’m finally writing this essay, the one I’ve been trying to articulate for almost eight months, the one I have been putting off for just as long.



10 Essential Questions with Bam Mendiola

The Mountaineers | February 1, 2018

I’m enjoying learning and calling mountains that I hike and climb by their Native names and recognizing my responsibility as a settler on occupied land. I’m also beginning to discover that my body is not separate from the outdoors—that my body IS nature.



How Do You Measure, Measure a Year?

By, Kaylé Barnes of The Great Outchea for Wylder | January 31, 2018

When do we decide we actually measure up?

Last Saturday, instead of going hiking, I met up with a new friend for coffee. The connection was instant, conversation was flowing, and I was so grateful for the time we were making to spend together. When our conversation turned to what we were working on, I mentioned not feeling outdoorsy enough for my involvement with The Great Outchea she asked me to define what “enough” would look like. I didn’t have an answer.



Hostile Environment

By, Krista Langlois for Outside Magazine | January 31, 2018

Sexual harassment and assault ruining everything per usual.

Male coworkers taped up porn in the guide van and flung insults—one called her a “dirty, hairy feminist.” One evening, on the way back from the river at the end of a long day, the guide driving the van swerved onto a dirt road and pulled over. “Kiss me,” he said, tapping his mouth. “Show me you’re not a bitch feminist dyke.”



A New North Portland Gallery Gives Space to Queer and Trans Artists of Color

By, Fiona McCann featuring Maya Rivas & Leila Haile of Ori Gallery for Portland Monthly | January 30, 2018

This is a great read on top of just being a really important resource. I love what these two have to say about the space they’ve created and we’re lucky to have them here in Portland where POC-centric space has largely been removed or displaced.

“All the other galleries have the illusion of equity, the illusion that anyone can be here, but they can’t,” says Vivas. “Not anyone can show up there, not anyone can see themselves reflected in that space. I’m looking to reflect the most marginalized identity, and the only difference is, we’re being explicit about it. When the day comes that our community feels like spaces like these are no longer needed, that’ll be great.



Tips And Tricks For Plus-Size Hikers

By, Ashley Manning for The Trek | Published January 16, 2018

I can’t even begin to say how excited I was to find this piece. I NEED MORE! Tons of actually good information and motivation. There are a few euphemisms I wouldn’t use (certainly done by the editor). You can find even more of Ashley’s stuff on The Trek! Also, she just started the Appalachian Trail and we’ll be following her journey on Unlikely Hikers!



Wild Diversity

My friend Mercy is a Pacific Northwest force of nature and she needs support from her communities and allies to strengthen her new organization, Wild Diversity. WD encourages people of color and queer folks to get outdoors in supportive environments. She is about to start an Outward Bound instructor lead course. I can’t overemphasize how badly we need resources like this in the PNW! Here are some ways you can help:

Support her fundraiser for school: https://www.gofundme.com/wilddiversity

Donate gear to her gear library: https://wilddiversity.com/

If you live in Portland: Eat at ¿Por Qué No? on March 14th and 10% of sales will support Wild Diversity! Either location!



Video – Messengers: A Running story of Bears Ears and Escalante

Features Len Necefer of Natives Outdoors and many others

On December 4, 2017, President Trump declared a drastic reduction of Utah’s Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monuments. This is the largest elimination of protected land in American history…and the President had made his decision without ever stepping foot there.

On January 13, 2018, we gathered a group of friends and ran 250 miles across both monuments in a single weekend to see for ourselves what would be left protected.



Queer Futurism: Denizens of Liminality

By, Pinar Sinoupolis Lloyd | Published December 31, 2017 | queernature.org

Queer futurism, gender liminality in indigenous cultures, queer rites of passage and survival. I caught myself holding my breath a couple of times because of Pinar’s stunning use of language. Their words are like shimmering animals transforming into other animals, over and over. Gorgeous.

In my work with queer rites of passage and queer ecopsychology, what I have come to know is that queerness is an ecological formation. From my matrilineage, I come from a lineage of culturally-rooted gender-variance known as Quariwarmi. The Incas summoned a queer mountain deity of the jaguars, the chuqui chinchay, during a pachacuti—a cataclysmic change (Horswell, 2005). This deity is the patron of dual-gendered indigenous peoples. In Incan cosmology, the creative force of the Universe is androgynous; Quariwarmis, the embodiment of this liminal space. In essence, a cultural death doula was summoned during times of great unknown.


More recent stuff of mine or about me & Unlikely Hikers:

Feb. 15 – podcast – Think Out Loud – Oregon Public Radio show featuring segment on Me and Travis Clough of The Venture Out Project. Very cool experience!

Feb. 8 – One Instagrammer’s Quest for a More Inclusive Outdoor Community – interview with Jenny Bruso of Unlikely Hikers by, Jill Robinson for Sierra Club.


Other recent things to check out:

Feb. 23 – The Venture Out Project featured in Backpacker Magazine – Perry Cohen on queer and trans people in the outdoors: I believe we’ve always been there. We just had to keep our identities quiet, so there is no documented history of us in wilderness. When we talk about it, I meet so many queer and trans and gay people who say ‘oh I’ve done this forever,’ but they didn’t bring their queerness to the outdoors—for safety, I think. We seem to bring our queerness to the bars, or to other safe spaces in our cities. I think once you start digging you can find queer stories, but you just have to listen and read between the lines.

Feb. 21 – Glenn Nelson of The Trail Posse for Outside Magazine – It’s Time to Think Beyond Bears Ears

Feb. 19 – How Instagram’s being used to make the outdoors more inclusive and diverse – an interview with Ambreen Tariq (Brown People Camping), Jaylyn Gough (Native Women’s Wilderness) and Danielle Williams (Melanin Base Camp) by, Victoria Sambusky.

Feb. 9 – Patagonia – Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Feb. 7 – Tiffany McClain – What a 23.5 Mile Walk Taught Me About Diversity in the Outdoors – great article published on Melanin Base Camp about what “outdoorsy” may look like in different cultures and what we might miss due to largely narrow definitions.

Feb. 5 – American Hiking Society announces Next Gen Trail Leaders featuring inspiring individuals who have led their own hiking adventures to extend outdoor opportunities to underrepresented communities. Leaders include Maricela Rosales, Ron Griswell, Tyler Lee, Liz “Snorkel” Thomas and Dakota Jackson.

Feb. 2 – Boldly Went – A Proposal for White People who Want Diversity in the Outdoors: Make Yourself Useful
Nov. 13, 2017 – Keah Brown on Roxane Gay for Harper’s Bazaar – Roxane Gay Wants You to See Fat People as HumansOur bodies are vulnerable, our bodies are strong; they matter just like other bodies,” says Gay, whose third book, Hunger, is a powerful memoir about food, weight, and self-image. “They are not all necessarily diseased,” she continues. “A lot of times people see fatness as sickness and that’s not necessarily the case, just like thinness is not necessarily equated with health. I wish people had more empathy and consideration for different types of bodies and didn’t immediately start to approach fat bodies as, ‘Oh, this is a problem and this problem needs to be solved.’ That’s just such a bad way to go about treating other human beings.



Want stickers?

I’m trying to offset the huge investment I’ve made on these and the T-SHIRTS I’ve ordered (going up soon!)

$10 for all three of these stickers RIGHT NOW! I’ll ship anywhere!

Venmo: @jenny-bruso
Paypal: paypal.me/jennybruso (trackthirteen@gmail.com if you have trouble with that link)

Send shipping info with payment (make private on Venmo)! If you want a different combo of stickers, just say what you want with your address. Take pictures & hashtag #UnlikelyHikers!!!

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