Queer Tales from the Trail- Finding Your People
Sharing some cheese and wine for lunch (fancy resupply, I know), we briefly discuss queerness on trail, and how we are grateful there is a visible community out here. I share how I was personally a bit worried about not finding this space on trail, for some reason. As I wander off back to the trail, I realize I’ve been thinking about it a lot so far!
Some preconceptions of mine came from experiences on a thru-hike back home in England. I honestly met some great people on this trail. But on reflection, I met nobody who was (openly) gay/queer. No community. Even the hiking community itself was small. Sad face. So when I returned home I immediately called my friends up and said “OK yeah the hike was awesome but can we all go to the gay village tonight, please? I miss my people!”
I would go on to joke about this when planning and discussing my PCT hike. Tossing around comments like “as soon as I get to Seattle, I’ll be going to a drag show!” As throw-away as these comments were, I genuinely was a little nervous about being deprived of a queer community out on trail. I just presumed it would be a similar demographic to what I got in the UK.
I wondered, “well, maybe I don’t need to be around a community, it’s probably not even important, not everything has to be GAY!”
Then I argued with myself- “wow, you can’t think that, of course it’s important! You’re asking to be VISIBLE. You’re asking the bare minimum. That’s exactly why it’s important.”
I talked myself out of even writing about this topic, presuming I didn’t have a wise enough brain to articulate these thoughts well. But if everyone thought this, then we would have no food-for-thought gay thru-hiking blog posts (a fantastic niche, yes) and that sounds both sad and boring.
So, back to trail-time. Within the first two weeks of hiking the PCT, I look around and realize I’m hiking amongst a really badass amount of queers, she’s, they’s, gays, allies, everythings, and more. Phew.
The take-home from these musings is- you will find your people! If you don’t… you quite literally walk away, you hike on. All it takes is a little ‘wanna meet at the water source?’ ‘Wanna camp here?’
So why not get your best gaydar on. Find out people’s music taste, compliment their rainbow food bags and pride bandanas! Just ASK people- we’re hiking 20-30 mile days. So trust me, people will talk, they will share, they will open up, people have really surprised me! Ask about their exes, their lovers, their crushes, their past, their on trail romance. Ask about their childhoods, their teen years, their family. You can have peace and talk to no one all day, or you can have your own ‘Humans of New York’ but it’s ‘Humans of the PCT’, and yes, you remembered right, of COURSE you can make it gay. It’s your space, our space.
Whilst strolling along the many ridgelines, I also consider those who maybe aren’t out or are at the beginning of their discovering sexuality journey. I wonder how the trail may actually be a great space to explore and become more open about this. This is because you’re meeting new people EVERY day, some you might never see again! You’re away from your home crowd/friends/family/colleagues who may be your biggest barrier for coming out. You’re writing your own new chapter. Maybe YOU are your biggest barrier to coming out? If so, you’re in luck as you have 24 hours a day for about 160 days with YOUR OWN MIND. Enjoy. Take advantage of that and learn to love every little corner of your interesting, worthy, loving mind, body, and soul. You’re not even going by your ‘real life’ name if you have a trail name! Test the waters if you’re ready, you’ve got this, and your sparkly friendly community is always waiting and ready to give you a big hug!
So yeah, can we open this up some more? Leave your thoughts or experiences in the comments of this post. I’d love to keep this conversation open!
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