Appalachian Trail Histories


Impact on the LGBTQ Community

Rebecca Wight

Rebbeca Wight.

The murder of Rebecca Wight shook the LGBTQ community, and when another innocent lesbian couple was murdered along the trail eight years later, both the LGBTQ community and hikers were deeply affected. The changes in the ways these crimes were handled dramatically illustrates the advances made by the LGBTQ community in just eight years. While the relationship between Brenner and Wight was not heard in court, the murder of Julianne Williams and Laura Winans, a couple killed while hiking the Shenandoah section of the Appalachian Trail, was the first LGBTQ hate crime to be prosecuted as such. 

Brenner went on to become an activist for LGBTQ rights. She has written a book, Eight Bullets: One Woman's Story of Surviving Anti-Gay Violence, and helped create a short film documenting her experience, In the Hollow. 

It is important for the ATC to create a community that is inlcusive and safe for LGBTQ hikers. While these relatively similar murders are not linked, the Appalchian Trail community must create an environment that will encourage all minority hikers to use the trail. In 2018, we can expect affinity groups, including one for LGBTQ hikers, to be put into place for Appalachian Trail hikers, staff and volunteers.