One of the central tenets of the Sierra Club is that the natural beauty that surrounds us is for everyone. In addition to fighting for environmental protections, the Sierra Club wants to encourage people to take in the wonders of this big ball hurtling through space. And the group Venture Out is making a safe space for LGBTQ people with their all-queer camping and hiking trips.
Venture Out is a nonprofit organization founded by Perry Cohen in 2015. The organization has taken over 300 people into the woods since then. And they’ve got eight big trips, plus loads of day hikes and classes planned for 2018. Cohen founded Venture Out shortly after he transitioned.
But it’s not just that, as Cohen says. The outdoors is a place for people to feel like themselves. Cohen told the Sierra Club, “There weren’t any mirrors. There weren’t any bathrooms. It was just me. [Hiking] was a way of finding appreciation for a body that in a lot of ways I didn’t like.”
Unfortunately, it’s not always easy for LGBTQ people to enjoy the outdoors. Amie Freetly, a trans woman who came on a Venture Out trip, tried to change her name on her REI membership. She was called by her deadname by a clerk at the sporting goods retailer, and told she needed a court order. Cohen himself has reported harassment while hiking.
But there’s safety in numbers — and Venture Out trips are particularly fun. As camper Jay Crosby put it, “All of us didn’t get the opportunity to do the kind of camps that we wanted to do as kids,. So, being able to come back as an adult and camp in a tent with your friends, and just have that sense of community and silliness and fun, is really valuable.”
Watch the Sierra Club’s video about Venture Out below, and read more about the organization here:
Have you been camping with Venture Out? Would you like to? Let us know in the comments!
Featured image via Venture Out