Dear Queer Diary: Let’s Take This Outside

Dear Queer Diary_Rory Midhani_640px

I would like to begin this column with the requisite admission that I am not at A-Camp. In fact, I have never been to A-Camp, mostly due to practical things like having a job.

While I will admit that, on some level, this reality fills me with a fear of missing out (see: FOMO) so vast and so deep that it rivals the Atlantic Ocean, I am comforted by the realization that, if you are reading this, you are probably not at A-Camp either.

So before either of us sulk off to scribble sadly in our diaries, let us take heart! We have each other! We have our journals! And, most importantly, we have the great outdoors.

I have always been of the opinion that the great outdoors is made especially great by the addition of reading and/or writing material.

I have always been of the opinion that the great outdoors is made especially great by the addition of reading and/or writing material.

Now that spring has sprung (depending, I suppose, on your hemisphere of residence), even the tragically A-Camp-free world is filled with sunshine, flowers, and cute children with lesbian mamas romping through parks in adorably striped shirts. It is time, my dear queer diarists, to abandon your dim, carpeted hidey-holes and venture out onto the verdant carpet of Mother Nature!

Desks are all well and good for the winter months, but once the weather begins to warm up, I am a firm believer that there is no substitute for outdoor journaling. Journaling while outside makes me feel simultaneously like a great philosopher/poet, a student in a brochure for a small liberal arts college, and Rory Gilmore, who, I would like to remind the world, once paid twenty dollars in cold hard cash to reclaim her spot under her favorite study tree. Where else can you gaze up at the sky for inspiration or frolic through fields of wildflowers as you contemplate the mysteries of life?

I'm not sure this was her best haircut. (Via TV Goat)

I’m not sure this was her best haircut. (Via TV Goat)

I am not the only one who has good things to say about outdoor writing — or being outdoors more broadly. In the always great words of Margaret Atwood, “In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” As much as I enjoy the smell of raspberry almond bath gel, I think I would also like to end every day smelling like dirt — and holding a pen in my hand.

Here are a few ideas for outdoor journaling:

  • Add a pressed flower or a leaf to the page you are working on or, if you prefer to leave no trace, draw a picture of said flower or leaf to remember it by.
  • Take the first few minutes of your journaling session to describe the sounds around you — which are probably a nice change from the whirring of your computer’s fan or the strange creakings of the man in the apartment above you.
  • Imagine the same location 100 years in the past. How big was the tree you are now leaning against then? Would the man on the bench to your right be sporting an extremely dapper bowler hat or checking a gold pocket watch?
  • Make a list of cheesy similes to describe the beauty of nature. Then, forgive yourself for the clichés and take a moment to appreciate the way the blooms on the nearest tree really are as lovely as a Sunday morning.
This seems like an ideal journaling background. (Via Antony Ohman)

This seems like an idea journaling background. (Via Antony Ohman)

I am aware, of course, that not everyone is on the very best terms with the great outdoors. If you are an indoor-cat-type-person (you know who you are), don’t forget to bring the multiplicity of items you will need to survive in the outdoor world: tissues, for your pollen allergy; sunscreen, to shield you from harmful UV rays; and perhaps even a travel-sized container of hand sanitizer in case you come into any contact with a real live insect. Although an outdoor journaling quest may seem perilous, there is always an off chance that a beautiful journal-toting maiden awaits her fearless lady knight at the edge of the nearest park.

Peer out your windows, Straddlers. Can you see a park bench beckoning? A shady tree? A vacant stoop? Grab your notebooks and head outside into the wide world of journaling greatness!

Dear Queer Diary is a column about the joys (and occasionally, the pains) of journaling. We crack open our tiny notebooks and break out the rainbow-colored pens on the regular, so get ready to limber up your writing hands and document all your beautiful feelings!

Header by Rory Midhani

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Maggie is a freckly, punctuation-loving queer living in the Boston area. She supports her book-buying and tea-drinking habits by teaching America’s youth how to write topic sentences and spends her free time writing postcards and making sandwiches for her girlfriend.

Maggie has written 53 articles for us.


  1. Thank you for not being at A-Camp with me. I appreciate that you stayed out here with me, in the real world.

    As an outdoorsy, writy person, I also feel compelled to share with you my latest adventure in the urban jungle. I went to run a color race, because that’s the queerest thing I could think of doing instead of A-Camp. The race gives its participants free temporary tattoos to stamp on their beautiful bodies, on the day of the race.

    The burning sun made the temporary tattoo a permanent one. My upper chest is stamped with the word RAD in big, thick letters.

  2. Maybe those of us who aren’t at A-Camp, should hold a G-Camp, wherein we hangout on G-chat and sip tea/whiskey while simultaneously watching the same campfire youtube video and talk about feelings. Someone should bring a guitar.

    • OMG yes!!! I have rainbow marshmallows I bought the other day, someone make this happen!

    • When do you all want to do this? What time zones are you in? I also have a ukulele, though I don’t play it well.

    • I’m a newbie to AS, but I HAVE A GUITAR!…that I only started learning 3 months ago but hey I know like 8 chords and that’s something. And I’d be totally down to join in on something like this.

    • This is brilliant. I fear timezone wise I’m even to far to the east (UK) for this. I shall eat non rainbow marshmallows and play ukulele in my van. *sob*

  3. I recently wrote one of my favorite poems of my own in my poetry journal, mostly sitting back against a tree, on the shore of a lake. Pretty much the most ideal writing situation in the world. The sounds of rolling waves, birds chirping, bees buzzing, and all manner of wildlife skittering about is the kind of inspiration of which dreams are made.

  4. I love this idea. I recently discovered a state trail near my house while starting my half-marathon training and I can definitely see myself stopping there/other places to reflect and write. Thank you!

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