As promised below are two contributions from one of my favorites on the trail so far, Gracetopher or “McGuyver” here on the PCT is one of the most positive, friendly and thoughtful humans I have ever met. I am in awe of thier spirit and ability to use the resources available to them to make it through this incredible journey. I look forward to reuniting in the future.
For more of McGuyver’s writing visit adventureswithgracetopher.wordpress.com – also be sure to follow them on Instagram @AdventuresWithGracetopher – McGuyver is completing this hike on a shoestring budget, if you feel so inclined visit click here to help support thier endeavor. They are certainly worth the investment.
On being queer in the wild…
Being on the trail makes me feel so privileged, and yet also finally on the same footing as people more privileged than I am. I find myself counting my blessings as I walk along: 2 Feet that keep me going! One sun shining just the right amount in the morning, one breeze to keep me cool, one patch of shade for my desert siesta, one functional spine (even after the whole falling off a roof thing).
Most of all, I’m so grateful to my parents for taking me backpacking so early in life. My new friend Wine Troll is one of the very few other queers I’ve met out here so far, and I get why. Coming from small remote towns around Oregon and Iowa, I understand the fear that rural places inspires in many queers (and potentially people of color I’d imagine, especially considering the trail is whiter even than Portland, Oregon). Living in the small towns we pass through would probably not be fun, but hiking the trail with all the super cool people I’ve met certainly is fun.
Ultimately, I couldn’t imagine my life without the outdoors. I’m lucky enough to have grown up more comfortable on the trail than anywhere else, so even though that means leaving my queer family behind in Portland, I know how worth it this is. And with any luck, an awesome trail family will grow around me as I hike from Mexico to Canada. Hey, my confidence is only growing as we hike. I’ve never been shy about sharing how gay I am, and I’m even coming out as nonbinary to some fellow hikers. Maybe I’ll make it just a little easier for the next nonbinary queerdo wondering if they’ll fuse in amongst the hiker trash.
If I do nothing else this summer, I hope that I do make this easier for those who weren’t lucky enough to grow up in the outdoors like I did to find their way to what could grow into the best new home and family.
On gender identity…
Coming out as gay is easy. I can say it, or I can reference my ex girlfriend (extra easy when passing a mountain with her name – Garnet Peak back before mile 50). Ultimately it’s a thing I tell you that changes little about how we interact (if you’re not a homophobe).
Gender and pronouns is a new Wild West though, and it’s something that’s rarely worth it for people I’m never going to see again. On the trail however, I’m never sure who I’ll see again or when, and people tell stories about McGuyver using she/her pronouns all the time. Maybe people I’ve never met, or met only once and haven’t had the chance to bring up my pronouns with.
Coming out as nonbinary is so much more anxiety inducing than coming out as gay because it’s so new to some people. Sometimes to come out I have to redefine gender for people, and after a long exhausting day of hiking sometimes I’m just not up for answering all the questions. There’s also the undeniable fact that I am in fact very cute and even fall into some fairly feminine categories and do little to change that.
Maybe as I continue bemoaning my inability to grow a hiker beard people will catch on? Maybe next thru hike I should get on T specifically so I can grow a hiker beard, wouldn’t that be cool.