Hi! It’s Monica again! I wanted to share one of our earliest discoveries in the archival storage. Chris, our volunteer coordinator, and I were bringing boxes from the archives. There’s a few boxes unmarked, which meant we had to go through dusty boxes to see what we could work on. We found a box full of newsletters and random t-shirts—how could we make sense of this? As we dug deeper in there, we found a file of newsletters advertising gays in the outdoors. Interesting! I don’t remember if I walked out of the storage and asked questions later, but we added this box to my workload.
Since these boxes are over twenty years old, we had to transfer the cruddy boxes into nice, archival boxes to protect our precious queer treasures. As we transferred, I went through some of the items. The first one I found was a patch with a rainbow and what looked like the Sierras.
First of all, how cute is this patch? My archival detective skills hinted that G.L.S. most likely meant Gay Lesbian, but what did the “S” stand for? I know of the Sierra Club, but did that mean the Sierra Club that was inspired by the complicated-environmental-movement -influential-John-Muir? Was this a chapter? A new club? Maybe fabulous folx rebelliously took the name and started their own club. There were more files to go through, so I randomly pulled out some loose newsletters:
This group was thorough! In their newsletter, Outdoor Adventures of Sacramento stated they formed by a guy “frustrated with trying to meet other Gay people who liked to meet other Gay people who liked to get outdoors (beyond the patios of Faces.)” I personally can relate to this scenario: I’m not into clubs and bars, but I’m into hiking, camping, bicycling, and being around likeminded (queer) people, so I understood where the founder was coming from. From these items I found, here’s what I gathered:
Outdoor Adventures of Sacramento was active from 1985-2001. They were a group of gay men and lesbian women who went on almost weekly outings in the Sacramento area to nature trails, river floats, campouts, backpacking trips and the occasional wine tasting. They explored most of the Sierra Nevadas and California Coastal range with the maps to prove it. When they finished a trip, they would publish a field report and mail it out to their adventure buddies. These newsletters would also announce the next outing and any other important news. What I found inspiring was if they weren’t hiking, they would organize a potluck and enjoy each other’s company.
This find was so inspiring. This was before social media, texting, and accessible internet. This was before Google maps. This group found community with each other, and gay couples in their hiking gear and backpack flannel are beaming back at me with their arms lovingly around their partners on trailheads and campouts. The interracial couple resonated with me, as my partner is white and I am Latinx; I felt a sense that we could maybe belong here, too. I sense that this would resonate with fellow LLACE community members, too.
As someone who follows and reads outdoor enthusiast print magazines and shops at recreational co-ops, the scene is very white, cis-gender, and heteronormative. I don’t see myself in many of the ad campaigns and unless I’m hiking with my own crew or Latino Outdoors, I don’t often see people who look like me. I think if I were in my 30s, and I just moved to Sacramento in the late 1980s, there would be a place for me explore with other queer community. I wouldn’t be limited to just Faces or the Lavender Bars of Sacramento, but had the option of going to the river with some fun lesbians. I’m looking forward to accessioning this box of archives and learning more about the people who lived, and lived out loud on the nature trail. Also, I hope to find the co-founder who created the logo seen above.