LGBTQ Explorers and Adventurers

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There are a number of notable LGBTQ explorers and adventurers who have made significant contributions to history, or are doing so today. These contributions consist of world records, historical writings and photographs of their travels and profession, and activism in the fields of anthropology and civil rights.

Exploration demands a certain character. It involves immense risk-taking accompanied by a unique sense of accomplishment and the personal exhilaration resulting from new experiences. Indeed, each of the individuals below have detailed their personal experiences in autobiographies that were avidly consumed by the general public, and often made into award-winning films and documentaries.

For example, do you know:

  • the lesbian explorer who was the first woman to sail and ski across Antarctica? She was also a key activist who fought for the State of Minnesota's equal marriage laws?
  • the gay geographer who is known as the 'father of modern geography'?
  • the gay explorer of Africa and the Middle East who was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire?
  • the lesbian woman who disguised herself as a man in order to participate in the early exploration of Hudson's Bay and the Northwest Territories?
  • the bisexual explorer who later became a noted anthropologist and author of 23 books? She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously in 1979.

The explorers listed below represent both historical and contemporary individuals. It is notable the number of lesbian explorers on the list – challenging oneself and taking risk and discovering new things are not limited by gender – nor by sexual orientation.

Indeed, many of the historical individuals on the list became explorers specifically because of their sexual orientation. The risk taking aspect became an outlet for their pent-up anxiety and frustration for having to live a life in secret due to the norms around sexual identity at the time. Exploring became, for many, an escape from their hetero-normative world.

Read on for these, and more, fascinating stories: