Q+A: Adventure Guide Kieron Wilde Wants to Make the Outdoors More Inclusive

Posted by
Keith Langston
June 06, 2024

Kieron biking in the Pacific Northwest
Wilde biking in the Pacific Northwest

Kieron Wilde founded and runs First Nature tours, an adventure company dedicated to creating journeys that are filled with excitement and luxury.  

First Nature operates trips in Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and British Columbia, offering treks up Mt. Rainier, rafting journeys along the Columbia River, and more. But its founder Kieron Wilde also wants to use his position in the outdoor space to help inspire people from diverse backgrounds to discover their inner explorers. 

Wilde is openly gay and knows firsthand how intimidating the outdoor world can be for people who feel different. But he hopes that as more representation comes to the outdoors, it will show members of the LGBTQ community and other minority groups that nature is beautiful and is for everyone. Territory Supply was lucky enough to catch up with Wilde between trips to ask more about his adventures and advocacy. 

Kieron leading a kayak tour
As an openly gay man, Wilde knows that the outdoor world can be intimidating to many people — but he wants to diversify the industry with representation.

Tell me a little bit about who you are and your company. 

I’m the owner of First Nature, we’re a destination management and tour company, focusing on the Pacific West region of North America. We specialize in designing custom experiences and building everything for the guest, like arranging guides, transportation, activities, lodging, and anything else a trip would need. Sometimes I’ll even be the guide. Guiding is actually how I got started in the tour industry. 


How did you become so passionate about the outdoors? 

My background is in ecology. I went to school for restoration ecology and environmental science, and worked in that field for a number of years. I worked for everyone from the Bureau of Land Management doing desert restoration in Southern California, to North Cascades National Park doing fire ecology, and even the Department of Ecology doing salmon habitat restoration. 

I also had a lot of experience in the service industry from all the jobs I had during college, so I felt I could make a bigger impact if I started doing tours that would also help teach people about the environment. My friends had always joked that I’d make a great tour guide since I love to talk about the environment and love sharing experiences with people in nature. 


As a gay person, what was it like getting into the outdoors? 

Well, I had my own inner struggle about how to present myself, because I’m what I call “passively heterosexual”, where most people on the street wouldn’t immediately know I’m gay. I’ve rarely been in a situation where someone’s been like, “Oh, you’re gay right?”

So that creates some interesting tension, especially with my job as a tour guide. When you’re with a client and you’re traveling with them for an entire trip, you’re obviously having conversations. Sometimes they assume my sexuality and it can get pretty awkward. I’ve struggled with whether or not to just immediately bring up my sexuality somehow by mentioning that I’m married to a man, or just let people make their false assumptions and kindly correct them. But yeah, it’s a weird thing to have to deal with. 

Kieron on a hike with his husband and baby
Wilde enjoying a hike with his husband and baby

Do you feel that your masculinity helped you be more widely accepted by the outdoor crowd than if you were more noticeably gay? 

Honestly, I don’t know because I don’t know any different. But I can say that it did kind of cause me to live in fear a lot. Since it wasn’t already just out there, and I had a choice of whether to share it or not, I was constantly in fear of it being discovered. It can seem like a benefit, but in a lot of ways it actually delayed my own self-acceptance and continued some of my own internalized homophobia. Because, you know, I’m from rural Wisconsin, so I never knew any gay people and never saw any on TV. The only rhetoric about gay people I ever heard was extremely negative. 


How do we get more LGBTQ people into outdoor adventure? 

The outdoor space is definitely dominated by white heterosexual people in this country, but there’s nothing more natural than being in nature. So yeah, it’s incredibly important to allow queer people to feel safe exploring the outdoors – and not just queer people but also people of color, or any minority group. 

At First Nature, we’re taking part in lots of LGBTQ-themed outdoor events. We help out with Oregon’s Winter PrideFest, which offers skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and tons of other outdoor experiences. It’s a great event where people in the community and their allies can come together and spend time outside. 

Kieron Wilde on a winter adventure
Wilde wants everyone to know: they are welcome outside.

What would you say to someone in the LGBTQ community who wants to get outside and explore, but maybe has no idea where to start or feels uncomfortable? 

I would say to remember that you’re welcome here. Especially if you’re traveling with First Nature, you’re safe with us. I’ve lived and worked in the Pacific Northwest for 20 years, so I can say from experience that there are lots of places in the region where you can explore while being who you truly are.  


Other ways for the LGBTQ community to get outdoors: 



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