Gay hiking

Hike for Something Bigger – The Trek

It is said that the “why” of a long distance hike is the most important and everyone has their own. Keeping your why can sometimes be the only thing that gets you through a tough day. I certainly have mine, but we’ll get to that later. Ever since I started planning my hike, one theme has consistently emerged – making the hike bigger than me. What does it mean? Trek for Something. I want to use my Pacific Crest Trail hike to raise money and awareness for two organizations that mean so much to me – Hiking My Feelings and The Trevor Project.

To understand why I chose these organizations, I think it is important to understand what they do and the impact they have. So, let’s dive!

Healing happens one lead at a time.

Photo Credit: Hike My Feelings

The My Feelings hike began on a mountaintop east of San Diego, California in 2018 — a mantra, a battle cry, and most importantly, a replacement for the while eating and while drinking which had once been go-to methods for dealing with the reverberating emotions of experienced trauma. Since that day, Hiking My Feelings has been on a mission to improve community health by creating opportunities for people to experience the healing power of nature.

Americans spend 95% of their day indoors, and getting back into nature allows us to reconnect with ourselves and the planet. When we give ourselves the opportunity to reflect and find inspiration in what we have experienced on our Path of Life, we can become intentional about how we spend the rest of our time on this planet in these bodies – by incorporating the lessons learned into our personal lives. lives and communities.

Feel seen in a world without Windows

At the end of 2018, I was listening to a podcast which was an interview with Sydney Williams, the founder of Hiking My Feelings. She was talking about her story and the birth of My Hiking My Feelings. She talked about her struggles with eating disorders, sexual assault, loss of loved ones and more and how she overcame so much (you can listen to that podcast here). Hearing him talk about his story was the first time I had heard a story similar to mine come back to me. For the first time in my life, I felt seen. I remember sitting in my car listening to the podcast, sobbing.

Immediately I found Hiking My Feelings on Instagram and composed a message just to say thank you. I didn’t expect to get an answer, but I did. Fast forward a bit, Sydney has released a book (Hiking My Feelings: Stepping into the Healing Power of Nature) about her story and how she healed her trauma, and how to start the process on your own.

With a toolbox in hand, I started working on the things I was carrying in my “traumapack”. The process of sorting out my own trauma was and still is the most difficult yet fulfilling thing I have ever done for myself. For the first time in my life, I feel good about myself and I accept love for myself. Honestly, I don’t think I would have gotten this far without Hiking My Feelings. Now I have a community of people who see and accept me for all that I am and all that I am not. For that, I am eternally grateful.

You can read more about Hiking My Feelings here!

Creating a better world for LGBTQ+ youth

Photo credit: The Trevor Project

The Trevor Project is the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning) youth. The organization works to save young lives by providing support through free and confidential suicide prevention and crisis intervention programs on platforms where young people spend their time: a telephone lifeline 24/7, chat, text and soon social media integrations. platforms. The organization also operates TrevorSpace, the world’s largest safe spaces social networking site for LGBTQ youth, and runs innovative education, research and advocacy programs.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth are more than four times more likely to attempt suicide than their peers. LGBTQ youth from strongly rejecting families are eight times more likely to attempt suicide than youth from accepting families. Up to 50% of all trans people have attempted suicide – many before the age of 25. The Trevor Project estimates that more than 1.8 million LGBTQ youth between the ages of 13 and 24 in the United States seriously consider suicide each year and could benefit from its benefits.

A majority of young people choose to contact The Trevor Project over other suicide prevention providers because the organization is LGBTQ affirming or a trusted provider of crisis services. Ninety percent of young people who contact Trevor experience a de-escalation in suicidal thoughts. LGBTQ youth who report having at least one accepting adult were 40% less likely to report a suicide attempt in the past year. The Trevor Project aims to always be there for LGBTQ youth in crisis with a clear message: they should be proud of who they are and that they are not alone.

Carry the invisible shame

I always knew I was different, but I couldn’t figure out how. Only in college would I be able to express it – I’m gay. I had always heard that term when I was younger but didn’t really understand that it was something you could be. No one in my family ever talked about it and I didn’t know any homosexuals (at least I didn’t think so).

Still feeling on the outside was incredibly isolating – so much so that I was convinced the world would be a better place without me. When I was 12, I found myself in the kitchen with a knife in my hand ready to slit my wrists. I can still feel the blade digging into my skin. At that time, the thought of my mother finding me held me back in this life, and I carried that shame in silence for the next 15 years.

Release the burden

I always believed that these feelings I was experiencing were not common and that I alone had to deal with them (or not deal with them). Once I finally spoke about my experience, I quickly realized that I wasn’t alone and didn’t have to continue carrying this shame on my own. At the time, I had no idea that organizations like The Trevor Project existed. I sometimes wonder how my life might have been different if I had. I know what it’s like to feel like death is easier, but I also know that those thoughts and feelings are terrifying, isolating, and hopeless. If my story can shed any light in the dark, everything I’ve been through is worth it.

The crushing weight of shame is heavier than any bag I could carry. This burden can be even heavier for members of the LGBTQ+ community simply because being queer is not universally accepted. Once I began to realize that I was not alone in my experience and that experiences like mine were not uncommon, I breathed out for the first time. Connecting to a community helped me realize that shame was not a burden I had to carry alone.

You can read more about The Trevor Project here!

I’m addicted! Now what?

I have set a goal to raise $2653 ($1 per mile) for each organization. 100% of donations go to organizations to continue the amazing work they do!

How to make a donation :

  • Donate to Hiking My Feelings here
  • Donate to the Trevor Project here

Monetary donations aren’t the only way to support Hiking My Feelings and The Trevor Project. There are so many ways to support them if you can’t financially:

  • Follow Hiking My Feelings on social networks and discover all the interesting resources
  • Follow The Trevor Project on social media and talk about the work they do and the impact each one has
  • Sharing my hike and my story and directing people to my fundraisers
  • Share the work of these organizations on your social networks

Thank you for allowing me to talk about organizations that have had such an impact on my life! It’s people like you who help organizations like Hiking My Feelings and The Trevor Project continue their work to bring real, positive change to our world. After all, if we have the courage to love ourselves and spread that love, the ripple effect will be unstoppable!

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