Birder's Guide

MAY 2016

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

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Page 49 of 59

48 Birder's Guide to Conservation & Community | May 2016 ers amongst them who eventually joined Gay Birders of North America (GBNA). But I still sought a group whose primary focus/obsession was birds. By 2001–2002, I had uncovered similar efforts under way, notably in the U.K., where Andy Webb and friends had started the Gay Birding Club in 1995. In June 2002, Webb visited California; we had a great day birding the San Mateo coast, fnding a few rarities, and chatting up a storm. Along with Webb was Mal Hodges, mastermind of the long-running GAGGLE group, which comprises gay and lesbian birders of the Atlanta, Georgia, area. Once we realized that we had been thinking along the same lines, it was easy to combine GAGGLE and GBC's perspectives and start a North American group. In July 2002, the email group GBNA was born, and communi- cation among LGBT birders blossomed. As was true for many people when they frst came out, many newcomers to the list remarked, "I thought I was the only one"—but here meaning, "I thought I was the only LGBT person into birding!" What came next, though, was unex- pectedly delightful. Contrary to nay-say- ing critics and smart alecks, GBNA did not become a singles bar for LGBT or- nithologists. Instead, it transformed into a group where LGBT birders feel at ease asking for trip-planning assistance (with- fve-mile hike. Thus the idea of assem- bling an LGBT birding group, regionally and nationally, grew naturally enough from the circumstances of the time. Around the beginning of the new mil- lennium, I searched to see if any such groups already existed. The Internet was not yet the fount of all data, as it now Gay Birders pretends/portends to be, but I did dis- cover a gay/lesbian Sierra group. One grueling hike with no pauses to look at anything convinced me that (a) I was out of shape and (b) these were not the peo- ple for whom I was searching! I found a group of local lesbians who liked out - doors adventures; there were some bird- n Birding near Sabine Pass during GBNA's 2011 meeting on the Upper Texas Coast. Photo © Laurie Foss n Looking for King Rails and Least Bitterns at Anahuac NWR during GBNA's 2011 meeting in Texas. Photo © Laurie Foss

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