Pride 2021: The Catalysts

A special 30-day series celebrating nonprofits working for LGBTQ+ inclusivity

(Photo: Geber86/iStock)
Friends Hiking

Every day during Pride Month, Outside is celebrating a different non-profit organization making the outdoor, yoga, fitness, nutrition, endurance, and wellness communities more welcoming and affirming for LGBTQ+ participants. 

June 10: Capital Climbers

Athletic Woman climbing on overhanging cliff rock with sunset sky background
(Photo: Solovyova/iStock)

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, for climbing, 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, Virginia, and Rockville, Maryland, as well as Sport Rock in Alexandria, Virginia. 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, MassachusettsQueer Crush at Touchstone locations in CaliforniaCRUX Climbing in New York; and LGBTQ+ Climbing Nights at Petra Cliffs in Burlington, Vermont.

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

Couple looking at mountain range and fjord of Norway.
(Photo: A&J Fotos/Getty)

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

Hikers climb ridge above sunrise, valley
(Photo: Ascent Xmedia/Getty)

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. Cultivating independence and celebrating identities, Brave Trails is an LGBTQ+ centered space where pronouns are respected and facilities are genderless.

Brave Trails also provides financial assistance to campers in need, which is where you can support. 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

Bike rider accelerating from training partner
(Photo: Klaus Vedfelt/Getty)

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 percent of USA Cycling registered competitors are women, and even fewer identify as BIPOC (estimates put this number between 8 and 10 percent). 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 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 its efforts, Stamina has become a leading advocate for systemic change in biking racing. To support the organization both on and off the course, you can donate to Stamina here.

June 6:

Training to win
(Photo: GlobalStock/Getty)

Resources and actions to support trans athletes

Launched by groundbreaking athlete Chris Mosier, 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 to 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 has aggregated information 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 learn what you can do to help defeat these bills.

June 5: PFLAG 

(Photo: Javier Soriano/AFP/Getty)

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

June 4: Human Rights Campaign

men holding hands with rainbow-patterned wristband
(Photo: nito100/iStock)

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 three million members, HRC is the nation’s leading advocacy organization for queer Americans. During 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.

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 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 market, financial institutions, education, and even in sports. 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 

Woman mountain biker corners through autumn leaves
(Photo: Reuben Krabbe/Ascent Xmedia/Getty)

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 always 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

Toyota Rock 'N' Roll Dallas Half Marathon
(Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty)

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. 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 percent 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

Saturday Sport In the Sonian Forest
(Photo: Thierry Monasse/Getty)

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+ people 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.”


Filed To: SportsAthletesGenderWellnessYogaNutritionRunningBikes
Lead Photo: Geber86/iStock