Wednesday, Jun 27, 2012
Yellowstone National Park joined the nation in observing the month of June as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month. For the second year in a row, park employees participated in the 2012 Montana Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride events.
LGBT and straight ally National Park Service and concession employees marched in the Pride parade and staffed an informational table about the park on Saturday, June 16th, in Bozeman, Montana.
NPS and concession employees were invited to participate via emails and flyers posted in various park buildings. And for the first time in Yellowstone’s history, an official park news release was issued announcing the park’s participation at Pride. The news release can be found at this link.
“Visibility is very important to the LGBT community, especially in such a conservative and rural part of the country. Yellowstone’s participation at Pride shows that LGBT employees are everywhere, including at the world’s first national park,” said Kevin Franken, an administrative support assistant at the park who coordinated Yellowstone’s participation at Pride. “Pride is an opportunity to raise awareness of the LGBT community and to celebrate the diversity of the workforce.”
At the 2011 Montana Pride, Yellowstone was officially represented for the first time at a LGBT Pride event. In giving his approval, Dan Wenk, the park’s superintendent, said that he considered this activity to be an example of park employees doing community and public outreach similar to other park outreach efforts.
“Like last year, hundreds of people applauded and cheered us on during the parade. We also received many compliments on the quality of our resource table and the information we had to share with the public,” Franken said.
The information table had various park brochures, pamphlets, and information sheets, as well as pictures and samples of the park's wildlife, such as a bear skull replica, a bison horn, an elk antler, and a coyote pelt. Park employees answered questions about Yellowstone, encouraged folks attending the Pride event to visit the park, and explained how people could apply for jobs at the park. Approximately 75 people came to the table and talked with staff about the park.
“Several people came up to us and said that they were very impressed that the National Park Service and Yellowstone National Park were represented at Pride,” Franken said. “Our outreach efforts were a resounding success! Everyone had a great time. We were all filled with pride.”
Some of the highlights of the 2012 march as compared to last year’s parade:
Last year, the first year we marched, we only had seven people in the parade; this year, we had 19 people, including LGBT NPS and concession employees, as well as straight allies and their children.
This year, we had two NPS employees march in uniform; last year, we only had one. The uniform - especially the famous ranger hat - makes us more visible (and more photogenic)
This year, for the first time, we had several straight allies march with us.
This year, for the first time, we had employees from the park’s interior march with us.
This year, we had four children march with their parents in the parade; last year, we had two children march with their parents.
“It is very empowering to be out and proud, either as an LGBT person or as a straight ally, by marching in the Pride parade. We look forward to attending Montana Pride for many more years to come” Franken said. “Hopefully, our efforts will help LGBT people who hope to work at Yellowstone realize that their dream is possible. I hope Yellowstone National Park's example serves as a model for how other NPS units can encourage their employees to participate in LGBT Pride Month.”