Irina Groushevaia

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Everyone knows rock climbing is a boy’s club, however, the local Bushwick gym, MetroRock, is changing the scene. Last year, MetroRock had introduced Women Crush Wednesdays in an effort to create a safe and inclusive fitness space for women and non-binary folx. Now, the gym offers an event called Queers 4 Climbing, an LGBTQIA+ inclusive climbing social for trans, gender-non-conforming, and non-binary folx, that offers free passes for queer trans people of color (QTPOC).

Collier Modell (they/them) and Jillian Keegan (she/they), are queer staff members of MetroRock behind Queers 4 Climbing. After getting into rock climbing, both have realized there isn’t a lot of space created for queer athletes.

“I quit climbing when I came out, I wasn’t down with the scene anymore,” shared Modell. “It’s hard to be active as a queer person, and especially as a trans person. We’re trying to make a space where queer and trans people can feel good in their bodies and not feel weird.”

“It’s pretty intimidating to rock climb,” said Keegan. “So having a safe queer space in a pretty straight-male environment is important.”

Keegan completing the “Rainbow Climb.”

Rock climbing is not a cheap activity either ($30 a for a day pass), and both Modell and Keegan made it a point to create a more inclusive climb, by making it more financially accessible by offering 50 percent off day passes ($15) and gear ($3 for rock climbing shoes).

Every member at MetroRock receives guest passes, but not all of them are used. To support the inclusive climb, members can now donate their guest passes to QTPOC climbers in need. If you’re interested in donating or reserving a pass for the Queers 4 Climbing, contact Collier Modell via their Instagram or email [email protected].

“We had five people use free passes at our last queer climb,” said Modell. For the upcoming climb, seven are currently available and three have already been reserved.

Photo courtesy of Esther Dionisio.

So far, the gym has hosted only one LGBTQIA+ event, but the organizers say it was “really cute” and a success. The next climb is this Thursday, May 30. The group starts to come together around 7 p.m. The event starts with an intro, where climbers also receive name tags for their pronouns, and do a stretch circle together. Beginners and climbers of any level are welcome to join.

In other ways to make MetroRock more inclusive, the staff has put up signs for their gender neutral bathroom, as well as started work on other issues. “Our waiver is really gender-based,” said Keegan. “So we’ve been working on the bureaucracy of it.”

Gyms are structured around the binary genders and it’s been proven to be an uphill battle to have inclusive language, showers and bathrooms for gender-non-conforming spaces.

The first Queers 4 Climbing was a success and another step to creating diversity and inclusivity in the fitness scene. You can follow MetroRock on Instagram to stay tuned about future events and Queers 4 Climbing.

MetroRock is located at 321 Starr Street, between St Nicholas and Cypress Avenues. The gym is two blocks from the L train stop at Jefferson Street.

Cover image courtesy of MetroRock.

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