Our spring issue wants you to get outside and find the rest of us, or yourself, or the history of a people, or something else we’ve never seen. LGBTQ women and other trans people already find themselves on the outside of a few things — the confines of a heteronormative cisnormative culture, for example — and a lot of us go to great lengths to stay that way. We take pride in not conforming, we find the strength in it. But when we’re talking about being outside outside, as in out-of-doors — taking hikes, building campfires on the beach, climbing rock walls, or climbing trees — it can feel weird or maybe even impossible to take up that space. Like we need permission, or just proof that it’s been done before by someone like us. Or maybe getting way way out there feels like the only time you’re free to fully be yourself! Some of you aren’t waiting for permission or proof of anything — you’re the only proof you need.
We’re not always in the history books alongside other trailblazers and outdoor enthusiasts, but we were there. Ads for outdoor gear and opportunities aren’t usually aimed squarely at us, but we’re there, too. We’re outside and outsiders all at the same time.
For the Outsiders Issue, we want to hear about what you’re finding when you look beyond your four walls, and what you were even looking for to begin with. Send us dispatches from the wildest spaces and unexplored histories, especially including histories that speak to the colonization of these lands and spaces.
We’re thrilled to announce that we’ve partnered with REI for this issue! REI is a member-owned co-op (not a corporation!) that launched their Force of Nature initiative in 2017 to help make the outdoors a place where more women could feel not just welcome but encouraged and fully capable. REI added more sizes to their clothing line and partnered with brands to design more gear specifically for women. They offer local classes, retreats, and adventures in the U.S. and abroad just for women, and have been sponsoring the Women’s Climbing Festival, highlighting trailblazing women (with an emphasis on women of color) and providing funding for groups like Latino Outdoors and Rocking the Boat.
And now they’re sponsoring this issue on Autostraddle! They’re super serious and not fucking around here: you belong in the outdoors and they want to help get you there.
What we’re looking for:
Longform journalism, on the ground reporting, photography, essays, humor pieces, graphic essays, and whatever else you could possibly think of related to the topic of outdoor recreation and the land! Here are some examples of the kinds of pieces we have in mind:
+ The Source of All Things, by Tracy Ross for Backpacker Magazine
+ Outdoor Voices: Blurring the Lines Between Working Out and Everything Else, by Jia Tolentino for The New Yorker
+ We’re Here. You Just Don’t See Us., by Latria Graham for Outside Magazine
+ Hiking the Nüümü Poyo: An Act of Love by Indigenous Women, by Tazah Chavez for the 562 Blog
+ Why I Got Off the Pacific Crest Trail After 454 Miles Instead of Walking All the Way to Canada, by Vanessa Friedman for Autostraddle
+ You Think You Have Time: Hiking the Lowest to Highest Trail, by Carrot Quinn for The Toast
+ Going It Alone: Hiking the Appalachian Trail as a Queer Black Woman, by Rahawa Haile for Outside Magazine
+ Life’s Swell, by Susan Orlean for Outside (the article that inspired the film Blue Crush)
+ Horse Girl, by Heather Radke for The Believer
I Walked From Selma To Montgomery, by Rahawa Haile for Buzzfeed
+ These Gender-Nonconforming People Are Building a Safe Haven on an Appalachian Farm, by Cristina Maza for Narrative.ly
+ Daughters of the Springs, by Lauren Groff for The Oxford American
+ The Incarcerated Women Who Fight California’s Wildfires, by Jamie Lowe for The New York Times
+ Green Screen: The Lack of Female Road Narratives and Why it Matters, by Vanessa Veselka for The American Reader
+ A Beginner’s Guide to Fly Fishing With Your Father, by Heather Radke for Longreads
+ Adventurous. Alone. Attacked., by Megan Specia and Tariro Mzezewa for The New York Times
+ The Group Getting Queer People Outside Together, by Rebekah Frumkin for Outside Magazine
+ The Miseducation of Leave No Trace: Policing Black and Brown Bodies In The Outdoors, by Danielle Williams for Melanin Base Camp
+ How the Bicycle Paved the Way for Women’s Rights, by Adrienne LaPage for The Atlantic
+ Traveling Lite: Why Women’s Travel Memoirs Get Sold Short, by Rachel Friedman for Bitch Magazine
+ Returning Stolen Land to Native Tribes, One Lot at a Time, by Emily Wilson for Civil Eats
+ Raise the Flag High: Queer Farming in Rural America, by Lori Rotenberk for Modern Farmer
+ Bicycling Across India, Learning About Queerness and Intimacy Along the Way, by Mary Ann Thomas for Autostraddle
Thanks to REI’s generous sponsorship, we’re able to offer much more competitive rates than usual, so wow this is really a great time to have something to say about queer culture as it pertains to the outdoors! Depending on the piece (length, edits required, reporting involved if relevant), payment will be between $150-$1,000, with personal essays and shortform work falling between $150-$250, and reported or longform work falling in the range of $300-$600. We can go higher ($1,000) for like, ONE exceptional pitch! Theme issues are also one of our favorite ways to find new regular contributors and staff writers — that’s how writers like Sarah Fonseca, Mey Rude and Reneice Charles first graced these pages.
We are, as always, especially interested in submissions from trans women and people of color.
The deadline for submissions is April 26, but we will be accepting things on a rolling basis, and will respond to you either way by May 1.
If your pitch is for a story that would require reporting, then let us know how many weeks you would need to put it together. We will be publishing Outsiders pieces until the end of June, so you’ve got some time between pitch and publish!