17 May 2019 by Jess Borham
Some of my earliest memories are of me and my brother and sister, my dad and my dog walking for what felt like hours on end along the canals of Birmingham on a hot summer’s day. We’d watch the kingfishers dive and the dragonflies dart about the water and ignore the odd trolley and shoe floating by and just keep walking on. Eventually there would be choc ices and a break for our young legs. There was never a plan or a destination – it was for the joy of it. I didn’t know it then, but those were some of the happiest moments of my young life.
At that young age I already felt different, out of place and afraid of the truth of me meeting the outside world. But on those long summer walks I felt free and peaceful, and by the end of it so tired! Walking still gives me that sense of freedom and peace and it has helped me to overcome some of the most challenging times in my life. A day spent walking is rejuvenating and therapeutic and so crucial to my wellbeing.
Today I am marking International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia (17 May), as a queer woman, by walking through the LGBTQ history of London with LGBTQ colleagues and Ramblers allies who know the power of walking to bring people and communities together. We are taking the chance to reflect on the incredible legacy of our community in London and reminding ourselves that when we walk together, we grow together as a community and we connect with each other and our environment in ways that are both healing and empowering.
Existing in this world as a queer woman is not always brightly coloured dragonflies and choc ices. Some days you face hate, some days you have to fight the hate you’ve internalised, some days you are just tired of the pain you see your community go through and some days I feel the anxiety I developed, when I was just a young child wandering in the world, take over. On those days throwing on my walking boots, sometimes inviting others to also do the same, and getting out and enjoying green spaces is everything I need to feel OK. Just one foot in front of the other is all it takes, and I can be free again.
Walking has the power to bring us together, green spaces lift us and building communities and connecting with our environment ensures we are never alone. I believe protecting the places we love to walk is crucial to our health and happiness. Together we can ensure everyone, everywhere can enjoy the outdoors on foot and benefit from the experience. Here at the Ramblers we walk side by side with all people, whoever you are, and are here to help you experience the joy of rambling too.
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