Homo Climbtastic Gets Pumped at the NRG
posted by dpm on 07/18/2010
A group of seventy climbers entered into the Vandalian
, a local restaurant in Fayetteville, WV for breakfast. Their voices were elevated in excited exuberance; heightened even more by the high octane coffee. The climbers consisted of both men and women from every region of the United States including a few international participants. They had converged on the New River Gorge for a singular purpose, to celebrate gay pride and unity within the climbing community.
Homo Climbtastic was the brainchild of Alex Rowland. “I just thought it would be a shitload of fun,” gleamed Alex brandishing a mischievous expression while talking with Dead Point. The other participants laughed, and all seemed to agree that it was a fun event.
“In college I was in a fraternity. I never felt like I belonged except when I was hanging out with my fraternity brothers. They were my family. When they found out I was gay, they kicked me out. It was rough because I went from having a big family to not having anybody. They disowned me. So now members of HC are my brothers and sisters now. This is my family,” Dane shared, his eyes welling with the memory of his excommunication from his fraternity. Dane was one of the many particapants who has found a place with HC.
The group is open to anyone and included several straight participants who came to show their support of the gay climbing community. The group organizes events twice a year. “We were in Red Rocks last winter and here last summer. We try to do a winter and summer trip. This is by far our biggest turnout though,” said Rio, a short Filipino-American whose contagious smile and energy made him stand out in the crowd.
Rio was on his way to try Quinsana Plus, a menacing 5.13 at Endless Wall. The group consisted of climbers of all abilities. Some ventured onto the sharp-end for the first time over the weekend, others tried their first 5.10’s, while a few ventured onto harder terrain.
The weekend allowed climbers from different backgrounds to converge and share the climbing experience together. There were events, including the “anti-comp” which involved belayers doing whatever they could verbally to get their climbers to fall including jokes, stories, bad beta, insults, sounds or gestures. The event was complete with prizes from sponsors such as Chaco
, Beta Clothing Designs
, Black Diamond
, Water Stone Outdoors, Aveda
, the Access Fund
, and drag superstar Pandora Boxx
. “Overall, the climbing community has been tremendously supportive,” Rio chimed.
“We all hear derogatory comments or slurs in the climbing gyms. This group empowers us and gives us a network and support crew to encourage us to speak up,” commented one climber within the group.
“I’m not gay, but my climbing partner is. It was important for me to come and show my support,” said another.
Regardless of their reasons for attending, the participants of Homo Climbtastic all shared the common bond of climbing. Their psyche and jovial, fun-loving attitude was contagious and refreshing. Hopefully, their presence will help raise awareness and further social acceptance of homosexuality within our community.