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Outside Is Where The Heart Is

Meet Ryan, Our Latest OUTdoors Spotlight

Backcountry partners with the Utah Pride Center (UPC) to support our local LGBTQ+ community and raise awareness about the UPC’s work toward advancing mental health and inclusivity in the backcountry and beyond. In our OUTdoors Spotlight series, we’re sharing the stories of LGBTQ+ outdoor athletes.

Ryan Taylor (he/him/his) is a Backcountry employee, an avid outdoor enthusiast, and a big proponent of making everyone feel welcome outside. He’s also the product line manager for Stoic, a brand built by Backcountry. We sat down to chat with him about his favorite outdoor pursuits, his LGBTQ+ role models, and his dog Stella.

How has the outdoors been a catalyst for you in terms of identity and freedom of expression?

My journey started when I studied at a university with incredible access to the outdoors. I stumbled upon a group that focused on getting people outside and trying new things. Before I knew it, I was spending every weekend camping, backpacking, hiking, skiing, and everything in between. The outdoors can truly be a place where you can escape the pressures of life and feel whole. As I continued to explore, I also came to terms with who I was. My community celebrated and welcomed me with open arms.

How can the outdoor community be more welcoming, more inclusive?

There are still lots of “gate-keeping” and elements of exclusiveness in the outdoor community. The best way to make the community more welcoming and accessible is to CREATE THE SPACE. We need to welcome people to the outdoors, lift them up, hear their stories, and show up for them.

What are some of the barriers you’ve faced growing into your own identity?

I grew up in an extremely religious household and in a community that did not coincide with my identity and orientation. It wasn’t until I was on my own that I was able to begin unpacking what I was raised to believe and start coming into my own. I have always loved outdoor recreation, but parts of my personality were often met with teasing and closed doors. I had this skewed viewpoint that hyper-masculinity was the only way to participate in the activities that interested me.

What are some things Backcountry can do to be more inclusive and welcoming of the LGBTQ+ community?

From an employee standpoint, ensuring we have employee resources to promote safety and wellbeing. Same goes for lots of marginalized communities. I am so excited about the Trailbreaker Program. It is a perfect example of creating the space for communities and giving platforms.

Who are some of your role models in the LGBTQ+ outdoor community?

Jordan Cannon, Patrick Dunn, Blake Hansen.

“My hope is we can all seek out those getting outside for the first time or who have not been included, and start building a new outdoors.”

What are some of your favorite outdoor pursuits?

I love to camp, backpack, hike, ski, and mountain bike. I am new to mountain biking and touring and I can’t wait to keep diving in. My team members at Backcountry have been my personal coaches in introducing me to these pursuits.

What are your favorite places to backpack and hike?

Cecret Lake in the Utah Uintas, hands down! I also love anything along the Oregon Coast. I was fortunate to work in the Pacific Northwest and had many trips along the coast.

What are some highlights of your gear closet?

Outside of the gear closet staples, I have this portable coffee pour-over set from Stanley that I am obsessed with. Coffee tastes even better in the Uintas. I also love my new mountain bike!

Tell us about your dog, Stella!

Stella is what we call “an everything bagel.” She is a blue heeler, German shepherd, and corgi mix. She is obsessed with squirrels, rivers, and popcorn.

What are you most excited about in the upcoming collections from Stoic, the brand you work on?

This fall, I am very excited about our ski, snow, and fleece collections. We have some bold colors that I can’t wait to see on the mountain and around town. It’s truly a celebration of outdoor heritage and retro fun. Also, I can’t wait for customers to see our camp assortment for next spring. I can’t say much right now … but get ready.

“The outdoors can truly be a place where you can escape
the pressures of life and feel whole.”

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

I believe in creating an industry for all and learning from the past. That is one of the reasons I chose to work in this industry. My hope is we can all seek out those getting outside for the first time or who have not been included, and start building a new outdoors.

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