The gay outdoorsman challenging stereotypes in the travel industry

Jan. 25, 2018

mikahmey/Instagram

Mikah Meyer is on a quest to become the youngest person to visit every National Park Service site in one trip.

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The 31-year-old plans to visit all 417 sites in the epic trip spanning three years.

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He's been on the road since April 29, 2016, racking up tons of followers on social media from those captivated by his adventures.

mikahmey/Instagram

As an influencer, he's been able to financially support his trip with the help of sponsors, including brands specializing in outdoor gear.

mikahmey/Instagram

But using sponsors came at a personal cost; Meyer felt he'd have to obscure his gay identity on social media to maintain their support.

mikahmey/Instagram

“I looked at the travel industry ... and I saw no role models,” he told HuffPost, noting that he'd never seen an out guy in an outdoors ad.

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For about a year, Meyer kept parts of his identity hidden from his tens of thousands of social media followers.

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But then he had a realization.

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As a practicing Christian, he felt it was his duty to serve as a role model, to show that “gay” and “Christian” can co-exist.

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Coming out to his digital world didn't come without consequences: At least one sponsor eventually ended its relationship with him.

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But the payoff has been much greater. Some of Meyer's most popular photos are ones where he displays the rainbow flag to declare his #PrideOutside.

mikahmey/Instagram

He's gained a greater fanbase and has connected with LGBTQ-friendly churches to sing (a side gig of his) and give speeches.

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"In a world that thinks that Christians hate gay people, I’m proving that Christians love gay people so much they’ll help one set a world record,” he told Mic.

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Meyer expects to finish his three-year journey on April 29, 2019, at the Lincoln Memorial.

mikahmey/Instagram