Refusing Invisible

A No Wasted Days™ Story

Nature can transform us. It can be a bridge that leads from uncertainty to strength. It can be a gift of courage.

“Be alive,” says the land.

But for some, the unfettered space of the outdoors — its chance for freedom and mystery, its transformative powers and lessons — is blocked and there isn’t access to trails, lakes, or mountains. There isn’t the opportunity to learn this: That the way a body moves can be a form of freedom.

“If I want to play outside,” says Flash Foxy Program Manager and climbing guide Lou (they/he), “I think about if I’m going to be hate-crimed.”

“But” says Flash Foxy Volunteer Coordinator and climbing guide Marian (they/she), “the outdoors is freeing — it’s a place where I can be authentic without apologizing.”

This juxtaposition between wanting to express oneself freely and fully, and there being a prescribed and cultural notion of who is allowed to move and be outdoors — who fits the definition of an outdoors person — creates the foundational work for Marian and Lou.

When they first started climbing, Lou and Marian didn’t see others that looked like them and there weren’t programs for taking those within the genderqueer community into the outdoors. So, they decided to become guides, share their knowledge, and open doors for others to experience the exhilaration of moving freely.

“Climbing is a process that allowed me to reassociate with my body,” says Lou, explaining how moving through nature, in all its dimensionality, allows them to understand their body better and what they needed to thrive. Climbing, hiking, camping: This was a way for Lou to ground themselves, realize their potential, and see the gifts their body could give — pitches, miles, movement, laughter.

Sharing their knowledge, Lou and Marian create an outdoor landscape that looks more like real life. “It’s all about normalizing diversity,” says Marian, who received a grant from Flash Foxy and Brown Girls Climb to get their single pitch instructor certification. “We’re making a shift and creating a space of belonging.”

quote-leftPart of what we’re doing out here 
is giving people permission to be whatever type of climber they are.quote-right

“Part of what we’re doing out here is giving people permission to be whatever type of climber they are,” says Lou, continuing, “It doesn’t matter if you’re a woman, big bodied, genderqueer, transgender, or gender non-conforming.”

Working with Flash Foxy, an organization that stands with women and genderqueer climbers to pursue their love of climbing while reducing barriers to access, Lou and Marian help cultivate a more inclusive outdoors. Whether it’s living the dirtbag lifestyle and proving that there’s more than just one type of climber getting after it, becoming AMGA certified climbing instructors, or putting on climbing festivals for women and genderqueer climbers, Lou and Marian are building a path for others that leads to somatic vitality — to a landscape where others feel empowered and comfortable.

“We’re still evolving,” says Marian. “Whoever is out there that needs us — the doors are open. There’s room for silliness, tears, and vulnerability.”

Tying in. Doing their safety checks. Starting up. There is excitement in their eyes. We can see their unshakable willingness to reach out, hold on, and push forward. It’s beautiful and rebellious.

If you are interested in learning more about Flash Foxy, their climbing courses and festivals, and how they’ve been making a positive impact in the climbing community since 2016, please check out for more information.

To read “Invitation to a New Climber”, a poem by the Flash Foxy community visit here

All archival photos courtesy of Flash Foxy