“Beyond gender, it’s about intersectionality … we all have different identities, and I’m not necessarily sure that nature can strip away gender,” said Britt McClintock, Inclusion & Identity Executive-in-Residence at the Outdoor Education Department.
McClintock is speaking to the relationship between individual identity and experiencing the outdoors. Often, there is a discourse that the outdoors has the ability to erase gender roles, identities, expressions, and even sexual orientation. McClintock and several Colorado College students, seek to dispel this notion and actually bring gender — and identity as a whole — to the forefront in outdoor settings.
Thus, the idea of “Pride Outside” was born: an event held by the Outdoor Education Center to celebrate queerness and the diversity of gender identity on campus. On April 24 from 3 to 5 p.m. the Outdoor Education Department will host the celebration on Yampa Field, which will include lawn games, food, live music from the student band Parents, and the Spring Gear Sale. The hope is that this event will bring together those actively involved with the department and those less familiar, inspiring more understanding among the community and promoting new definitions of what diversity looks like.
McClintock wanted to take tangible action to acknowledge queer-identifiers in the outdoor community through her work studying diversity and inclusion in the CC outdoor culture last semester. There are many queer-identifying students both participating in and working for Outdoor Education, and McClintock said that they had “expressed concerns of a lack of visibility and support.” One particular student even told her to some effect, “‘I’m outdoorsy and I’m queer-identifying … I haven’t found a way that makes those go together.’” On the other end of the spectrum, McClintock learned through dialogue with the general student body that many “queer-identifying people on campus unrelated to Outdoor Ed didn’t feel super welcome.”
In response, McClintock initiated the creation of a new Outdoor Education logo sticker. The new sticker, which reads “All Adventures Welcome,” features a mountain consisting of what from far appears to be colorful stripes, but is actually a combination of Pride flags. The black and brown stripes at the top represent people of color, followed by the blue, pink, and white stripes making up the transgender flag, followed by the rainbow of stripes that compose the original LGBT flag. Louisa Mackenzie ’18, paraprofessional of the art department, helped McClintock design the flag to show the representativeness and inclusion that Outdoor Education promotes.
The sticker follows the same premise as a safe zone sticker, welcoming people of all backgrounds and experiences to participate in Outdoor Education. For McClintock, it was a small step to answer the question, “How can we show our support and visibility in a simple way?” For Mackenzie, it answered another question: “How do you [demonstrate] how the full experience is welcome?” In Mackenzie’s view, there is a rhetoric that the outdoor experience is the experience of white, cis males. This highlights the importance of recognizing all identities in the context of the outdoors. Ignoring these differences “assumes that there’s a neutral, there is a normal, and that normal is just white male,” said Mackenzie. “You have to talk to break down what that normal is.”
Andrew Allison-Godfrey ’17, Outdoor Education and Ritt Kellogg Memorial Fund Coordinator, echoed Mackenzie’s sentiment, acknowledging that when opening any outdoor magazine, he will often see photos of people who look quite like him. Allison-Godfrey said that the sticker, as well as Pride Outside, demonstrate that the Outdoor Education Department wants “people of all identifications to feel comfortable here.” If you don’t discuss the experience of people with non traditional identities, “you are, in my opinion, excluding those people,” he said.
Pride Outside will be an event that not only includes all people, but also fosters a more inclusive space. Taking place on Yampa Field, an area often dominated by sports teams and senior cottage parties, the event will make the space more inclusive to those typically turned off by the field’s culture.
McClintock hopes that the event will continue for years to come, especially considering that the Outdoor Education Department always has some sort of spring celebration. Coupling this event with the Spring Gear Sale has the intent to make a greater impact on the community by raising awareness that the CC outdoor culture needs recognition and change. The event happening in the first place, in Mackenzie’s eyes, is already a positive step. They said that queer-identifiers and students of color are frequently asked, “What has been your experience?” but there is “not a lot of visible action.” To them, Pride Outside is Outdoor Education giving “some acknowledgment, [saying], ‘We heard you and this is what we’re doing.’”
In addition to Pride Outside, Outdoor Education will be hosting several other events that explore identity in the outdoors. On April 23 at 12:15 p.m. in the WES Room, there will be a lunch and Q & A with founder of OUT There Adventures, Elyse Rylander. At 5 p.m., Innovation at CC will host a collaborative to create an Outdoor Education Inclusion flag using repurposed outdoor gear — dinner provided. On April 24, in addition to Pride Outside from 3 to 5 p.m., there will be a lunch talk at 12:15 p.m. in the Outdoor Education Center Boardroom with Mike Bortnowski, an openly gay mountain guide. Finally, there will be an overnight retreat April 27–28 at the Baca Campus, titled, “Exploring Our Identities in the Outdoors.”
If you’re interested in selling gear at the sale at Pride Outside, arrive at Yampa between 2:30 and 2:45 p.m. to set up your gear and to prepare to run your station and sales for the full event. Even if you’re not selling or buying gear, come eat, play some Spike Ball, listen to Parents, and of course, celebrate what it means to have Pride Outside!