Your Children Will Participate In My Psychodrama
Friday Ephemera

Walking While Outdoors: A New Frontier For Fearless Homosexuals

You may wish to brace yourselves for some intersectional ruggedness, care of Patrick Kelleher, writing in Pink News:

Meet the queer hikers proving the great outdoors isn’t just for cis, straight, middle class folk.

I fear a question may have been begged there, one on which the entire article rests, but hey, let’s push on. There’s oppression to invoke and needless drama to manufacture.

On the last Queer Out Here walk, there was a welcome circle where everyone was asked to introduce themselves, state their pronouns, and tell the group what the outdoors means to them. 

Because even simple fun – say, an outdoors walk - has to be organised, you see, and made “quite political,” with lots of declarations and public speaking to keep you in the moment and at one with nature. And a walk just isn’t a walk unless you can make it, like everything else, all about your identity, i.e., all about you. The organiser in question is one Ailish Breen, a being with pronouns, and who offers “queer-only spaces” to those in search of sky and scenery. If you’re “queer, trans, non-binary, genderqueer, gay, lesbian, bi, asexual, intersex, pansexual,” or any sexual-identity niche not yet recognised or invented, this is The Fun Time For You:

Our community is wonderful because of its breadth and diversity. By coming on a hike with us you’re committing to embracing everyone’s uniqueness and welcoming everybody. We don’t tolerate any form of discrimination at our events.

“Straight/cis allies” are, of course, not welcome.

Inevitably, “a lack of equality around access” is invoked, but as so often, particulars remain unmentioned or unobvious. Setting aside the advantages of suitable footwear and something waterproof, the nearest we get to crushing issues of unfairness are,

 Ailish says, “People think it’s for middle class, white, heteronormative families.”

A claim that hangs in the air with no obvious support.


“People often talk about bagging a mountain or a hill and it’s very much about conquering the outdoors,” Ailish says. “I can totally see that that would not be super welcoming for a lot of people.”


“It always baffles me that outdoor clothing is still so gendered in stores. The shop doesn’t need to be split into two sides. I always find that super weird that we’re still doing that, so maybe people should think about that.”

Devastating stuff, I think you’ll agree.

Presumably, hiking gear retailers should disregard their contentedly male and female customers, the overwhelming majority, who may not wish to be regarded as androgynous and wholly interchangeable, in favour of a tiny minority who aren’t entirely sure what they are, and who may possibly feel irritated by reminders of the customary, and all but universal, male-female distinction. Likewise, it seems we’re supposed to believe that Ms Breen’s merry band are somehow rendered tearful and distraught by any mention of the outdoors being conquered – even though the term means overcoming one’s own limitations, or imagined limitations - which, among those less pretentious and neurotic, might be regarded as a good thing.

And these, remember, are the harrowing obstacles to hiking faced by “queer” people.

As one person tweets in reply,

How to make a thing out of something that’s not a thing, and not anything that anyone was even talking about. Imagine having to invent your own oppression.

Those in search of more niche hardship are directed to the hallucinatory forces keeping brown people indoors. As conjured by the Guardian’s Nazia Parveen, who was troubled by the thought of rock-climbing instructors often being white, and for whom walking up and down hills - among white people - is very nearly traumatic. Readers may also recall Everyday Feminism’s Emily Zak, who wishes us to know that an afternoon of fresh air and countryside is terribly oppressive, because of “capitalism, colonialism” and the fact, or alleged fact, that outdoor activities are “painfully heteronormative.”

Ooh, a button. I wonder what it does.