Getting an SPI certification will give me some of the tools I need to transition to a career outdoors and create more spaces for those of us with marginalized identities to feel invited outdoors. This LGBTQ Affinity SPI course and scholarship not only made it financially possible for me to take steps towards a career in guiding, but it also has made me feel invited into the guiding community in a way that I have not felt in other professional athletic communities.
If you don’t see someone who looks like you doing something it’s really hard to imagine it. I didn’t have many openly queer or trans role models growing up and that made coming out and finding community as a queer and trans adult a slow, sometimes painful, process. I didn’t know how to look for a community because I didn’t see it existing.
The lack of queer professionals in the climbing and guiding industry is wildly disappointing… Right now, Sean Taft-Morales is the only out, queer SPI provider. They are literally the only person who can currently teach an SPI affinity course for LGBTQ folks... This lack of diversity within the guiding and outdoor industries makes me even more determined to get involved.
We have to create affinity spaces so that people of underrepresented groups know that they are invited and that the community is holding space for them. We need to create a climbing culture with room for learning, empathy and growth. We need straight, cis, white folks to make space. We need them to be quiet, listen, and take a step back. The outdoors should be for everyone, and it is the responsibility of those currently in power to provide space and opportunity for marginalized communities to uplift themselves.