Step into Spring with the Middle Tennessee OUTsiders

Building a community of LGBT and welcoming friends can be a daunting experience, particularly if you’re new to an area, came out later in life, or just don’t navigate the traditional social scenes of bars and activism. But there are many other shared interests, many of which can provide just as much social lubrication as a few drinks at the club.

“We have great traditional competitive sports organizations in our community, but some of us were looking for something different,” said Mark Hubbard, one of the organizers behind the Middle Tennessee OUTsiders (MTO).

After attending Birmingham Pride in 2010, Hubbard came back to Nashville inspired. ”We discovered a group that clearly had something unique going on—you didn't have to be experienced and you didn't need a lot of expensive gear. The focus was clearly on a love of being outdoors, and everyone was accepted for exactly who they were. No one ever felt left behind. Their ideas inspired what has evolved into a ‘hiking AND ___’ group. “

In addition to hiking, any given event might include learning about plant or wildlife, local sustainable agribusiness, historical or geology.  Recent winter excursions have included a weekend trip to Joe Wheeler State Park for the ‘Festival of the Cranes,’ as well as hikes of various skill levels in Bowie Nature Park, Mousetail Landing & Lady’s Bluff, and Frozen Head State Park.

These activities are meant to foster not only a shared appreciation and enjoyment of nature, but also the development of friendships and a sense of community and fellowship. To that end, the group is committed to providing accessible opportunities that “appeal to participants who are diverse in terms of age, experience, and ability.”

“We get exercise on our outings but testing personal limits and achieving target heart rates just isn't what we do,” explained Hubbard. “Our plans vary in length and difficulty and often include options to accommodate participants’ different needs. We've learned that all of this yields a unique inclusiveness in terms of interests, age, experience, and ability.”

Since its inception, MTO have welcomed a diverse range of people to their outings. “We have an active core of people who attend as many OUTings as possible and others who pick and choose,” said Hubbard. “Most have cultivated really strong relationships with other participants. We share a deep appreciation of the magnificence of nature and are all about slowing down to appreciate the endangered blue-eyed Mary blooming at our ankles, a pair of bald eagles circling overhead, or the historical significance of a decades-old ‘terazza’ dance floor encountered on a trail at the top of a ridge.”

In June, MTO will take their longest trip yet–five days and four nights at East Tennessee’s Roan Mountain State Park. “The mountain views are spectacular,” Hubbard beamed. 

Those interested in any upcoming OUTings are encouraged to email or visit the group’s Facebook page. 






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