Vancouver queer organizations get people out and about
Okay, so you’re out of the closet. But are you out of your house? Out of the gyms and clubs? No? Well, it’s high time to truly get out there.
And instead of going it alone or just with friends, you might want to consider the numerous benefits to joining an outdoor queer organization. In addition to learning essential skills from others, you can reduce the risk of becoming a search-and-rescue case, as Walter Kalyn of Out & About Vancouver notes.
“Anybody can go hiking and running around the mountains and everything, but it’s not a good idea to do it by yourself,” Kalyn says by phone. “So one of the big advantages of our group is the safety factor of going with a group of people and a leader who knows where they’re going.”
In addition to the numerous health benefits of being active and outdoors, there’s also social well-being to consider. For queer people, the camaraderie of a group can help to mitigate the residual effects of things like internalized homophobia, feeling alienated by heterosexism, or being bullied.
“It’s kind of a mental-health thing,” Kalyn says. “It’s the comfort of being in a group that understands you and knows you.”
And, of course, it can potentially provide a more substantial basis for connecting with others.
“It’s a great way to meet people other than by going to bars or things like that,” Kalyn says. “If you’re really serious about wanting to meet somebody, go to any one of these dozens of [recreational] clubs and activities that exist because that’s where you’re going to meet people who are interested in the same kinds of things that you’re interested in….We have lots and lots of couples who have met up through our club.”
With all that in mind, here’s a roundup of Vancouver queer organizations that can help you have fun under the sun. Other resources include the new youth-empowerment sports-hub website Queer Active (see also this article).
Going the distance
Whether you’re gay, bisexual, asexual, or straight, the inclusive Vancouver Frontrunners and Walkers welcomes everyone to their outings—held twice a week, rain or shine—and socializing over meals afterward. This season promises a Portland road trip, marathons, and the Pride Run & Walk on July 28 on the Vancouver Frontrunners website, a fundraiser for Out in Schools.
Their outings coincide with some of Health Initiative for Men’s Fruit Camps. These outdoor cross-training boot camps for queer men (of all fitness levels) are held almost all week long at various downtown locations until August 18. And they’re free—so all guys, regardless of income, can go bananas getting buff. (Visit their website for more details and schedules.)
Vancouver Prime Timers, for gay and bisexual men 35 years and older, isn’t an outdoor-specific organization, but its range of activities does include outings such as seawall walks, cycling, and golfing.
Climb ev’ry mountain
Feeling Maria? Follow these rainbow groups until you find your dream.
The lesbian-based Vancouver Outdoor Club for Women, founded in 1979, was the first of its kind in Canada and now boasts 143 members. They tackle it all: canoeing, mountain biking, bird-watching, camping, golfing, and more, not to mention social events, including a Trout Lake Park picnic in July.
The male equivalent, Out & About Vancouver, with about 150 gay members, covers the full-meal deal of the great outdoors, from hiking and cycling to backpacking and kayaking. Ten-kilometre day hikes, suitable for all fitness levels, are held every Thursday.
If you live in Whistler or head up there, the gay and lesbian ski and snowboarding club SkiOUT holds events throughout the summer, including alpine hikes and camping trips. For other mountainous queer events, check for updates at the Gay Whistler website.
Go with the flow
Paddles up! The 24th annual RioTintoAlcan Dragon Boat Festival hits Vancouver this weekend (June 15 to 17) and the lesbian team Sisters in Sync, in its sixth season, will be there, competing as well as holding its fundraising pancake breakfast (7 a.m. to 10 a.m., June 16 and 17).
If you want to learn how to row, row, row your boat, the Vancouver Rowing Club offers a queer-oriented four-week program (two classes per week) called Vancouver Strokes ($260 plus HST) starting in July, culminating in a regatta and a barbecue.
Meanwhile, lesbian and gay boaters, from amateur seafarers to old salts, will want to check out the Pacific Rim Yacht Club, which organizes sailpasts for events like the Pride parade and the Celebration of Lights.
They've got balls
Whether it’s soccer, (Out for Kicks), tennis, (Vancouver Gay and Lesbian Tennis Club), or volleyball, (Vancouver Gay Volleyball Association), queer sports leagues have almost every game covered. Queer softball players can choose the West End Slo-Pitch Association, while lesbian, bisexual, trans, or straight women can opt to enjoy a Mabel League of their own (which now has about 300 players). Even lesbian and gay golfers can get into the swing of things with the Out on the Green golf league.
Although most sports leagues have closed full membership for the season, many still accept drop-ins or subs. Check registration info listed at each league’s website.