queering yosemite

queering yosemite

I was inspired to create Venus in Cancer in 2021 when I was visiting my home, Rosario, Argentina. I met queer people like me who were designing and making handmade, bold, and beautiful garments under their own, original brand names. Concurrently, I was growing my romantic partnership with Ignacio, with whom I created an affirming container of art, music, love, joy, and queerness. I was also working as a global public health researcher, and felt more and more drawn towards feminist language, theory, and messaging. All these forces, combined with my Saturn return, birthed the idea for Venus in Cancer: a platform for artistic garments, activism, and community. A Saturn return is an astrological event in each person’s life around the age of 29.5 usually leads them to make a major shift in their lives that pushes them further towards alignment with themselves. I shared my idea about Venus in Cancer with Ignacio who is an artist, designer, and activist (before having the name or concept fully figured out). They were immediately supportive and interested in co-creating this vision. They became Co-Founder and Art Director of Venus in Cancer. 

It’s now a sunny Sunday morning in 2022 and the start of an exciting weekend. Ignacio and I rise early to make our morning coffee and head to Yosemite for the first time. What makes this trip particularly special is that we’re celebrating my 30th birthday, which happens to be the summer solstice and the first day of the astrological sign Cancer. Cancer season is characterized by the element of water meaning it’s intuitive, perceptive, in touch with depths and feelings. 

The smell of the Palo Santo stick that I light every morning is making its way around my apartment. I gather our camping gear and begin putting all our bags in the car. Ignacio prepares vegan sandwiches, sautéing kale and mushrooms as homemade seeded bread is toasting on the comal I inherited from my former housemate. I unexpectedly hear sounds and words happening that signal something bad. I discover that they just over-salted the sandwich spread. Delicious meals are our specialty and tradition for hiking trips. The sandwiches being potentially inedible really threw our preparation for the trip out of balance, but we quickly got distracted by our joy and regained footing. 

We drive away from Oakland and our phone reception. We listen to albums from start to finish and munch on greasy potato chips through winding roads and rising elevation. With overwhelming thrill, we arrived at our first hike of the trip at the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in the northwestern corner of Yosemite. 

Our intention is to be off the grid and disconnect for the next three days. However, some of our virtual community and our close friends are alongside us as we eat salty sandwiches, take polaroid pictures, look over the deep blue water, and climb on rocks to get a better view of the waterfalls. The night before leaving for our trip, we did a soft launch of Venus in Cancer. We finished connecting our bank account to the e-commerce platform, published our first design on our website, posted images of the garments on our social media accounts, and shared the link to view and purchase our products with our close friends and family. Having a soft launch right before a trip where we would have the inability to track the process was completely intentional. We wanted to come back to people’s response to our project. 

During our time in Hetch Hetchy, we continued brainstorming ideas for the different products we wanted to launch and going deeper into the values, mission, and vision of Venus in Cancer. We laugh at the fact that we left our water bottles in the car but were saved by a juicy watermelon that was packed as part of our lunch. We also acknowledge the hilarity of initiating a brand involving fashion when what we were wearing, as the creators, was completely average and, well, queer and somewhat sustainable. I’m wearing a pair of Wrangler hiking pants I found hanging on a fence in my brother’s neighborhood in Bayfield, Colorado, hand-me-down Columbia hiking boots from a friend, knitted socks from Costco, and a tank top I bought from my cousin’s online shop in Argentina. My partner is wearing a crop top given to them as a gift by a friend, my pair of high-waisted American Apparel jean shorts, hiking boots that I bought them for their birthday, and mismatched socks. The adventure is just getting started. 

Written by Sofía Lara Carbone

Sofía is a global health professional and Founder and Creative Director at Venus in Cancer. Sofía is committed to fostering joy, aesthetic force, and health equity. Follow Sofía's writing here

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