The Weekly - June 23, 2020 - 12

more than my accomplishments, and
the first year I was out, they flew my
girlfriend and me to march in the San
Francisco Pride parade. There are so
many awesome people out there who
are overlooked due to their color or
sexuality and Mountain Hardwear
wants to be the brand that is authentically for them, to put their money
where their mouth is and really back
these communities up.

Nikki Smith


Janelle Paciencia
Social worker, climber, Latino Outdoors volunteer, NextGen trail leader
for American Hiking Society; She/
Her/Hers, Ella
I feel like queer women, such as
myself, get left out or asked to leave
LGBTQIA conversations because
of the straight-passing privilege we
hold. I'm bisexual and married to a
straight man because it just so happened to be a man that I fell in love
with and not a woman at the end
of my dating journey. I know many
other women in my same situation,
and the sentiment resonates with
them clearly too-we are queer; we
are here; and we won't stop fighting
for this LGBTQ+ community with
which we will always very much
identify with and be a part of.
It wasn't until I met my husband
five years ago that I started to get
outdoorsy, so I've never experienced
concerns for my safety outside
because of my sexual orientation.
Now when I recreate and I see a trans
person or same-sex couple outdoors,
I make sure to give them a wholehearted friendly "Hello" and an extra
big smile to let them know I see them;
I am with them; and I want them to

feel safe enough to keep showing up
and taking up space. Especially since
the predominant outdoor narrative
never includes LGBTQ+ folks outside
of Pride Month, and, even then, companies can do much better with their
campaigns. I know there are brands
that are trying to do better with their
LGBTQ+ representation via their
social media, but, for me, words will
remain words until we see clear and
continuous actions to amplify, champion, and financially support the
work many LGBTQ+ folks have been
doing in the outdoors long before big
brands took notice. Until I see that,
I'll continue to use my dollars to vote
for or against you.

Alex Johnson
Professional climber, Mountain
Hardware athlete; She/Her/Hers
One of the biggest aha moments in
my life came when I was coaching
a kids' team at Vertical Endeavors
gym in Minneapolis. It was 2018, and
though I'd dated women since high
school, I had never publicly come out.
That meant none of the kids I coached
knew I was queer-and I wish they
had. I say that because, one day, one


of my favorite kids came to the gym,
and she was bumming, saying she was
having a shitty time in school, that she
was being bullied. When I asked her
why, she said, "Are you homophobic?"
I said "No!" and she told me she got
bullied for liking other girls.
That night, I went home and
formally announced my sexuality in
an Instagram post. I received a wildly
positive response. I don't know that
I have ever gotten a single negative
comment since. And I think it's because the climbing community, as far
as LGBT goes, is pretty inclusive-it
draws the outdoor community, and
people in our community generally
tend to be pretty accepting because
we all have this one common love.
But I do think that now, especially, a
lot of outdoor brands are engaging in
performative allyship.
Even a brand I was with before has
since been like, "Oh, yeah, LGBTQ
and people of color [are out there/are
in our space]." And I'm like, "Is this
really the case? Because it wasn't a
few years ago." But my current sponsor, Mountain Hardwear, is a brand
from which other companies should
take cues. They celebrate who I am

Climber, writer, photographer, AMGA
instructor; She/Her/Hers
Last year, Outside magazine ran a
feature-length profile of me, and
for the most part, the people who
commented publicly about it were
very positive. Anytime a company
or magazine like that highlights
stories like mine, they have to do
a lot of moderating. But I received
messages from trans people all over
the country and world, people who
thought they were completely alone.
So, I appreciate the visibility to bring
the LGBTQIA community into the
spotlight. But one thing that's been
difficult since I came out: I went
from someone who had 20 years in
the outdoor industry-as a marketing professional, an author with five
guidebooks, published photos and
articles, and more than 150 first ascents-to someone who, if I get asked
to teach or speak, I'm attacked online
and reduced by my detractors to
just being a "trans woman the event
added to seem woke."
I think the outdoor industry is very
far behind in inclusion. Even the efforts that are happening are still very
surface level. Like, a big company
will do an ad campaign, and they'll
photograph me or a Black person or
some other [marginalized person]
doing something outdoors, but the
people taking the videos are white,
straight, cispeople, as are the people
writing, and the people who work for
those companies. So, it's still a little
tokenizing, still on the surface. Advocacy groups are starting to reach


That's good because there's still a
sort of shock value if you see a trans
person at a trailhead. But if, one day,
you saw one in the REI catalog, they
could just be someone enjoying the
The one beef I have with Outdoor
Retailer comes from last June during
the Show. It was the 50th anniversary
of Stonewall and the Pride parade
was nearby. I fired off a note-"It's the
50th year of Pride, what do you have
in place?" No response. I walked in
the front door a couple of days later,
and I swear they'd taken down the
flag and swept all the glitter away.
There was a lot of effort going into
understanding and talking about
DEI. You could have put a rainbow
flag up. Had a Pride table. Something. You could have done it.


The Weekly - June 23, 2020

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