On October 13, 2017, people from around the U.S. assembled at the REI flagship store in Seattle to attend the first-ever LGBTQ Outdoor Summit. Hosted by Pride Outside and Out There Adventures, the summit served as a platform for members of the outdoor industry, the conservation community and environmental education organizations to cultivate connections, promote inclusion of the LGBTQ community in the outdoors, and explore collaborative opportunities to work towards equity. The summit provided a positive and goal-oriented space for people to learn, listen, share and network.
As the first of its kind, this event offered both conventional activations and interactive workshops, as well as several field trips over the course of two days. While the conference addressed the unique experiences, barriers, needs and wants of the LGBTQ community, all were welcome to attend. Over 130 people from all areas of the outdoor industry participated. There were CEOs and brand representatives from The North Face, Hipcamp, Girl Scouts and the Sierra Club, along with nonprofit organizers and outdoor enthusiasts. A stacked agenda filled with panel discussions and intimate break out sessions encouraged everyone to engage in a refined conversation recognizing the vast diversity of experiences and identities within our own groups. Tackling topics such as media representation and queer storytelling, LGBTQ history, allyship and advocacy, it was easy to walk away with an entire notebook full of stories, statistics and actionable steps on how to support the LGBTQ members of each community. Of course, it wouldn’t have been an outdoor summit without the opportunity to connect while doing what we love—being active and getting outside! From climbing with Alpenglow Collective at Vertical World Seattle to hiking Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park with the National Parks Service, the most memorable experiences of the LGBTQ Outdoor Summit were created during those in-between moments of problem solving on the wall and hiking throughout the city with new friends.
Educational, fun and driven by a mission, conferences like the LGBTQ Outdoor Summit are exactly what the outdoor industry needs right now to inspire an equitable and inclusive future. As a leading example of what we’re capable of, we can’t wait to see what the folks behind the LGBTQ Outdoor Summit have in store next.
Images by Lisa Dougherty.
This article was originally published in RANGE Magazine Issue Eight.