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  • Writer's pictureEric Chad Ho

Building Belaytionships

Updated: Mar 29

By Sam Ceja

Finding friendships in adulthood can be tough! Especially while our lives are often so full with work or school, relationships, or just trying to get by in a complex world. Not to mention living in a culture that prioritizes individualism over fostering connections. In big cities such as Los Angeles, walkable communities are rare. (You’re so lucky if you’re within walking distance of your local climbing gym!) For some, it may feel like navigating a difficult route or boulder problem.

Queer Crush (QC) meetups are the perfect place to foster not only new friendships, but a potential belaytionship. Our meetups are intended to create safe and inclusive spaces for those who are diverse in their gender, romantic, and sexual orientations. 

What do you like about attending our meetups? For some, they can bring a sense of community. For others, it’s about projecting climbs together. Some like the healing aspect of a shared space.

Can attending a meetup (whether or not it’s QC) feel cliquey? It’s easy to climb only with your friends or people you know. Top rope climbing and lead climbing requires an exorbitant amount of trust.

Building a belaytionship, or a “climbing partner who gives us a catch or bouldering spot, who supports us on in our literal and figurative ups-and-downs,” requires consistent effort. (Like working through the crux of a climb.) It goes beyond simply showing up once; rather, it involves dedicating time and energy into shared experiences and interactions. The "Friendship Formula'' which consists of four basic building blocks: proximity, frequency, duration, and intensity, offers some beta for cultivating deeper connections in the gym.

Proximity to other queer climbers at Queer Crush meetups can lay the foundation for shared experiences, and offer an even playing field for discovering a new belaytionship.

Yet, it is the frequency of interactions, whether in-person or virtual, that sustains the momentum of a belaytionship. You can find QC on social media platforms Facebook, Instagram, and Discord. These tools can be useful for folks to stay connected in between face-to-face climbing sessions, or even schedule a future climbing sesh.

Duration, the third element of the friendship formula, suggests that it is the depth of conversations and shared activities that solidify bonds over time. Whether meeting up to climb with a new friend or sparking a conversation with a stranger at a gym, the duration of these interactions can shape the trajectory of a belaytionship.

Intensity, the final component, speaks to the emotional resonance of our connections. Beyond icebreakers at meetups, meaningful and long lasting belaytionships are forged through moments of vulnerability, empathy, and shared values.

While not every interaction at a Queer Crush meetup will lead to a climbing connection; proximity, frequency, duration, and intensity all play a factor in a meaningful and long lasting belaytionship.

In the end, belaytionships are worth the effort. For queer folks, navigating spaces like climbing gyms can be especially daunting due cultural elements of exclusivity or heteronormativity. However, finding acceptance within climbing can also serve as a source of empowerment and community, offering a space where folks can authentically express themselves while climbing. Building a belaytionship (or several) is about embracing vulnerability, being open to new experiences, and reaching out to others one hold at a time.

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