Thank you to the UVM Rubenstein Graduate Student Association Seminar Series for gathering us together today for a conversation about our Pride Hikes and the importance of creating intentional safe spaces for LGBTQ people in the environmental community.
We had a spectacular panel of outspoken, eloquent folks sharing their unique perspectives. The Pride Center of Vermont and Audubon Vermont have been hosting monthly Pride Hikes throughout Vermont since June of this year. These hikes have gone beyond being "welcoming to everyone" to creating a safe, affirming space for LGBTQ community members.
Panelists spoke of the importance of safety in numbers, the trust built on the trails, being seen on the trails as members of the LGBTQ community, choosing inclusive and accessible hikes, and holding a safe, consistent space for community members to gather and forge friendships. The seminar turned into a great conversation, exploring questions about speaking out, advocating for the LGBTQ community, and supporting each other.
Our next Pride Hike is scheduled for this Saturday, December 8 at the Green Mountain Audubon Center. In January we'll be exploring the LaPlatte River Marsh and in February we'll be on the Colchester Causeway. Check our events calendar for dates and more details.
A huge thank you to our panel members:
Gustavo Mercado Muñiz is a queer, non-binary puertorriqueñe born and raised on the island, and they are the Transgender Program Coordinator at Pride Center of VT. They are a passionate queer and racial activist who wants to work on making spaces more accessible and safe for all folks in the community and the intersections of their identities. Gustavo is a hugger, avid reader, Beyoncé fan, and will never say no to good vegetarian food!
Megan Roberts has been a Paramedic in rural Vermont for almost 15 years. She is the first (and only) transgender female Paramedic in the state and takes every opportunity to promote awareness of trans people and to advocate for the needs of the LGBTQ community in healthcare. She is a proud parent to two wonderful teenagers, loves living in Burlington and still tries hard to like New England winters after 25 years of suffering through them.
Becky Swem loves the mountains and can be found hiking year round throughout the northeast. She is a member of the Adirondack 46-ers trail crew and trailhead steward program. Becky serves as the Education & Outreach Coordinator at UVM’s Prism Center and is passionate about queer inclusion in the outdoors and environment.
Meg Tamulonis grew up in NYC and has lived in Vermont for 18 years, where she works in a museum and explores fun places with her dog.
Gwendolyn Causer has been teaching environmental education programs with Audubon Vermont since 2005. Audubon’s inquiry-based science programs encourage exploration, foster critical thinking, and inspire conservation action in local communities. Gwendolyn’s first love in nature is botany and she does most of her birding by ear. She is passionate about creating equitable access to nature for communities not traditionally included in the environmental movement.