Queer Hikers Group Unites the LGBTQIA+ Community in Their Shared Love of Iowa's Outdoor Spaces

posted by Guest Blogger on Friday, June 24, 2022

Group photoFor many people, the outdoors serves as a refuge. Entire communities are built around loving the outdoors in different ways: hunting, hiking, camping, birding, fishing, photography, and much more. Iowa has a plethora of groups where nature lovers connect. As a lifelong Iowan, I noticed one group seemed to be missing from these spaces in Iowa – the LGBTQIA+ community.  

In the summer of 2021, Queer Hikers was born out of a need to build an LGBTQIA+ community in Iowa that connects around our love for the outdoors. Queer Hikers explores Iowa’s outdoor spaces with members of the LGBTQIA+ community to build friendships, learn about nature, and be our full selves. We hold free events once a month around the state, from Walnut Woods State Park in Des Moines to F.W. Kent Park in Johnson County.  

Emily with group on river bank

The importance of having a dedicated space for queer folks in Iowa’s outdoors spaces quickly became apparent after our first hike in 2021. It can be difficult to show up as your whole self when there is a fear of how you will be perceived and treated. When we hike as a group, there is safety. In turn, the more queer people we see in the outdoors, the more confident we feel. Our events are filled with joy and connection that has been missing for some queer Iowans.  

Group hiking on trailQueer Hikers is part of a growing community across the country. Other groups and people based around getting the LGBTQIA+ community outdoors have existed for years – The Venture Out Project, Unlikely Hikers, Wild Diversity, Queer Nature, Pattie Gonia, OUT There Adventures, OutVentures, and many more. Smaller local groups have formed, too, from queer climbing groups in California to queer angling groups in Colorado. Now, Queer Hikers is queering the outdoors in Iowa, one hike at a time.  

If you’d like to join an event or host your own, you can reach out to Queer Hikers on Instagram @queerhikers. Here are our currently planned upcoming events: 

Support LGBTQIA+ groups in Iowa by donating to One Iowa, Iowa Trans Mutual Aid Fund, and Iowa Safe Schools.  

About the Author

Emily Martin selfieEmily Martin (She/They) is an environmental scientist, writer, and artist who co-founded Queer Hikers. She works as the conservation programs coordinator for Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. Emily holds a B.S. and M.S. in Environmental Science from Iowa State University.  

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About The Author

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