June is Pride Month. We’re celebrating LGBTQ+ individuals who not only have an interest in the outdoors, but embrace the love they have for the natural world. These local individuals share their stories on why they love exploring the outdoors and how the outdoors is safe and welcoming to everyone.
Adam Moeller (he/him/his)
Great Parks: Thank you for taking the time to talk with me today. My name is Jashan Singh and my pronouns are she/her. For this interview and future publications following this interview, which pronouns would you like us to use when referencing yourself?
Adam Moeller: He/Him
GP: What is your specific interest in the outdoors?
AM: A lot of things, all of it. Personally and what I do for volunteer things and work, it’s a lot of pollinator gardens and native plant gardens. I just love the native biodiversity that we have when the invasive species are cleared out. I got that passion because I was lucky enough that my parents had a couple acres behind our house in Colerain. It was all honeysuckle to start, but over the course of the last 30-something years, my mom especially and my and all of my siblings cleared that out. Now it’s really beautiful and pretty free of that [honeysuckle]. You get to see it all recover and see everything come back. I just spent so much time outside growing up and then got a love for the native plants. At Withrow, where I work, me and the biology teacher are working with a lot of the students to set up pollinator gardens and java nice outdoor/learning spaces. I do some similar stuff in my own backyard and also at a community garden in the west end. I am just trying to get as many gardens everywhere that I am related to.
GP: What started your interest in the outdoors?
AM: Definitely my parents. The house I grew up in had a few acres behind it, and it connected to a 10-acre woods. Sometimes when I was little, it felt more like a chore to clear out honeysuckle. But as we kept doing it, we started to see the woods recover and I was able to see almost all of the native mammals in this area in that tiny pocket of forest. It really doesn’t take much to take care of it and keep it in its native balance. Then you see everything else kind of follow it and do the rest of the work. That is pretty much my lifelong project or hobby. That started my interest in the outdoors. My family, friends and I all love hiking, backpacking and camping and all that as well, but that is kind of an extension of my initial interest growing up.
GP: Did you have someone who inspired you?
AM: Definitely my mom. I don’t actually know what inspired her. I think she just loved the parks. Actually, a lot of people at Great Parks educated her about invasive species. She was like, “Well, we have a woods and it would be really cool to see wildlife and birds and everything in our woods.” So she just made it a passion project of hers and then taught me and my brothers all of that. Then I ran with it myself.
GP: Have you had any obstacles you had to face while enjoying the outdoors?
AM: It’s not so much an obstacle, but in the community garden work and in the work at Withrow, an obstacle is how little most people know about the outdoors. There is definitely a learning curve. It’s just an exposure thing, which is part of the mission at Withrow. The kids who would love learning about that and being in nature and helping with the pollinator and food gardens maybe don’t even know that they would because there’s often not a lot of exposure. That can be a challenge, to even convince kids that it’s worth giving it a shot and seeing if they like it. It’s not so much an obstacle but it’s the way teaching goes. I do have to convince myself that it’s worth the patience and it’ll eventually pay off for individuals and for nature. Gardens take a long time to mature.
GP: If you are comfortable sharing, what were those obstacles?
AM: I don’t think I have anything too traumatic, which I’m lucky in that sense. One thing that I feel and other friends feel is that the stereotype is that LGBTQ+ people do not like to be outdoors or belong outside. It can be kind of damaging. There are queer students at Withrow that are really close to me, but convincing them seems even harder that convincing a lot of my other students. I think it’s because a certain individual just might not like the outdoors. But I think a lot of them say “We don’t do that” or “I don’t do that.” But I think it’s worth a try. Sometimes, I feel in my personal life that people just in general are like, “I wouldn’t have expected you to be in to the outdoors because you’re gay.” But on the flip side it’s like, “I wouldn’t have expected you to be gay since you’re so in to the outdoors.” I don’t like either of those comments. It comes from all directions. It’s not really an obstacle, it’s just an annoyance. The reason I thought this project sounded so cool was because maybe it could start to address some of those stereotypes. I would like LGBTQ+ kids to be whoever they want to be, not feel like they have to fit into some stereotypes regarding that or anything else.
GP: What would you recommend someone do to make the outdoors a safe and fun place for everyone?
AM: Find like-minded friends and go do things together. If people are judgy or homophobic or give you looks, it’s a lot easier to deal with that if you’re with people that love you and love the outdoors as well. I know that’s easier said than done but I think that should be the goal. I think everyone can love the outdoors, I know plenty of people who do. Don’t feel limited to one particular hobby just because you don’t think that there’s people out there that share your interests.
Nature Interpreter, Miami Whitewater Forest