ClimbingQTs are an LGBTQ+ social climbing community and advocacy group inclusive of all identities and backgrounds based in Naarm (Melbourne, Australia), where climbers have the opportunity to mix and socialise.
Interview with Riley Edwards (they/them) - climbing guide and co-founder of ClimbingQT
Tell us about ClimbingQTs. What’s the organisation trying to achieve?
At the heart of ClimbingQTs values is creating an inclusive, diverse and empowering environment where LGBTQ+ folk can be their true selves, learn new skills, participate in active social sport and connect with the outdoors. This year I've been focusing on expanding our reach beyond colonial state borders and soon, with the support of Arc'teryx we'll be running even more events and programs for QTs all across Australia. Getting LGBTQ+ folk skilled is also a big exciting goal for the organisation so we're running even more clinics, courses and workshops in the next few months. Long term we're working towards education and training opportunities for industry professionals in the outdoors and recreation sector so that our work can continue through allyship and a whole of community approach.
How did you get into Climbing? Has your approach to climbing changed over the years?
I started climbing at the gym mainly seeing it as a form of exercise, but quickly realised that I enjoyed it much more than that and even more when I could share it with others. I never imagined that it would soon take over my life and seep into almost every aspect of everything I did but more than that, it gave me a sense of belonging and was the catalyst I needed to rid myself of bad habits and pick up some healthier ones. My approach has always been to learn new things, but making sure to have (second degree) fun while I do it. It means I've gone through various phases of indoor and outdoor climbing obsessions, everything from wanting to participate in all the state competitions to faffing around on trad adventures. I'll try anything and everything at least twice, because you never know if you've only tried it once.
How do you find Outer Peace? What effect does being outdoors have on you?
I lived in a lot of countries growing up and moved from place to place almost every year, but the one thing that has stayed relatively the same is the outdoors. Wherever I've lived whether it's in a compound in China or in a tiny village in Germany, nature has been there for me as a refuge and was the constant I sought when everything else felt unstable. Outer Peace for me is being able to self-locate to take a moment in time and space to understand where I am and the privileges in life that led me to that point and feel grateful. This is the attitude that energizes me to keep giving back to my community.
What needs to happen for the outdoors to become more diverse and inclusive?
We need to work together from all ends of the spectrum. Leaders and champions need to platform diverse identities. Allies need to step in and facilitate conversation. LGBTQ+ folk need to continue to stand together and build community resilience. We need to keep educating ourselves because there's always more to learn. Connect with the community and get us involved so that we have a voice and inclusion is embedded into the core for the work that you do. Although the rainbow mafia love being a collective most of the time, we're also so unique and different and what it means to be queer to one person might be entirely different for someone else. So don't just leave the door open, invite us in.
How can people join ClimbingQTs?
Come to an event! Everyone is welcome at ClimbingQTs because we recognise the importance of allies in the message we share. ClimbingQTs is about cultural change towards a more inclusive climbing and outdoors community where being rainbow doesn't mean you're ever disadvantaged or marginalised. Folks can stay up to date via our website, Instagram and Facebook 🌈
To find out more visit www.climbingqts.com