Instead of spending time preserving natural history, some federally funded parks are sponsoring Pride month events and teaching LGBTQ history to the public.
Earlier this month, Yosemite National Park in California held a week-long Pride celebration sponsored by Yosemite’s LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group. The events included a speaker series as well as a Pride march and Pride festival co-hosted by drag queen Wyn Wiley, whose stage name is Pattie Gonia.
Wiley posted a video reel on Instagram where he said the march was just for Yosemite employees. However, on the flier promoting Yosemite’s Pride march, it says it is open to all “community members and employees.”
In the same reel located on Wiley’s Pattie Gonia Instagram account, he says, “Gay people are literally taking over the National Park System,” and “Mother Nature is a lesbian.”
He also brags about how it is his third time participating in Yosemite’s Pride march. Wiley not only co-hosted this Pride march but also is the face of outdoor clothes maker North Face’s “Summer of Pride Collection” and is set to star in Disney’s “Parent Trap II,” according to his Twitter post.
Each month, the park service selects a theme or themes to promote. This year, the service selected “Pride” and the “Great Outdoors” as the themes for the month of June.
The park service is responsible for the upkeep of 63 historical national parks in addition to many national monuments, battlefields, and reserves. It cares for these national sites with taxpayer dollars.
While a majority of the 63 historical national parks have not held Pride marches or events as Yosemite did, the National Parks Service continues to promote LGBTQ stories and LGBTQ “teaching resources” on its “LGBTQ Heritage” webpage. This webpage features a “Pride Guide” as well as “LGBTQ Heritage Education Resources.” Some of these resources include tools for implementing LGBTQ history in schools across all grade levels.
Another medium through which the park service pushes the LGBTQ agenda is through Pride-themed story hours. For example, the park service’s calendar shows that Acadia National Park in Maine is sponsoring a “Pride Story Time with a Ranger.”
While there may have been previous Pride events at the parks earlier this month, the calendar only shows future events.
Still, The Daily Signal was able to find that Zion National Park in Utah held a Pride event on June 15. The all-day event featured a “seminar, service parade, and Pridefest which has NPS career and safety resources, community collaborations, face painting, button making, and so much more,” according to the park’s official Instagram account’s post on June 9.
Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming also hosted a Pride event this past Saturday titled “Pride Outside Program.” According to the park’s Instagram account, the event was a celebration where they “learned from each other and enjoyed the rainbow of flora around Jenny Lake.”
While Zion National Park and Grand Teton National Park are among the only parks to host Pride events, the National Park Service has been promoting pride for a while.
In 2014, the park service created “LGBTQ Heritage” as a new “Heritage Initiative.” The goal was to “identify places and events associated with the story of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans for inclusion in the parks and programs of the agency,” according to an “LGBT_Launch_Document” on the service’s website.
Since then, the park service has participated in or hosted Pride parades and marches, created a database of LGBTQ stories, and generally promoted Pride month each year.
In 2022, it held a virtual Pride parade, participated in a New York Pride parade, and promoted LGBTQ stories.
In 2021, the park service celebrated the fifth anniversary of President Barack Obama’s designation of the Stonewall Inn in New York City as a national monument. The Stonewall Inn was an illegal “gay bar” in the 1960s where a series of violent protests occurred after a police raid. Because of the uprising, the riots are regarded as having launched the “gay rights” movement.
The park service created a 15-episode video series that featured a video titled “What does Stonewall mean to the Rangers?” as part of the anniversary celebration of the Stonewall national monument.
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