LGBTQ students embrace the outdoors
On March 3, The Donahue Institute and alum Ana Seiler (‘20) hosted a Zoom event titled, “Queer Inclusivity and the Outdoors: Intersectionality on the Trails.”
The event was aimed at bringing awareness to the Queer and Transgender community’s accessibility to the outdoors, language surrounding the outdoors and indigenous groups, and seeing nature as an extension of ourselves, rather than a separate being.
The event was organized by Chief Diversity Officer Jesse Tauriac who stayed in contact with Seiler after she graduated.
“She’s shared with me some of the updates on her career,” Tauriac said. “We talked a little bit about finding a position at an organization that really aligns with her values. When she shared that with me, I felt that it was very important that people consider that and invited her to speak.”
Tauriac said events for students involving LGBTQ inclusiveness are important for members of the community.
“It’s critical that we are very intentional about fostering an environment where queer folks can have a sense of community and can know that they can be safe enough to enter spaces that unfortunately, they haven’t always felt safe to enter,” Tauriac said.
Seiler, who is now an employee at the Venture Out Project, an organization aimed at creating community for the LGBTQ community through relationships with the outdoors, wanted to come back to speak in order to be the person she did not have while at Lasell.
“I wish that there had been more opportunities at Lasell, to hear from… outdoor leaders, from folks that work in indigenous sovereignty,’’ Seiler said. “Part of the reason I wanted to come back to Lasell to talk was to be able to be that person that I wish I had. I wanted to provide an avenue of thoughts and ideas and provide a little bit of hope that even though we don’t necessarily have an outdoor leadership program major, that it’s possible to get into things that you didn’t major in after you graduated.”
Conversations about queer inclusivity aren’t only important for members of the LGBTQ community. “This event is important because it raises awareness, and it helps people to realize that unfortunately, there are real threats out there that people face,” said Tauriac.
“Our cis, and straight students need to understand that these issues are very real and meaningful and important. And unfortunately, oftentimes, people from advantaged backgrounds aren’t always aware of the challenges that folks from minoritized backgrounds are facing.”
If there is one thing Seiler wanted attendees to take away from the event, it is that “we all have to shift our mindsets around what being human means in the grander plan of the ecosystem and actively playing a role in it, not just expecting nature to abide by whatever we want to do.”
According to Tauriac, more events are coming for the LGBTQ community in the future such as the Queer Prom night and an LGBTQ Alumni panel organized by the Student Alumni Association and PRIDE.