National Park Service ranger with rainbow pride flag at Yosemite
National Park Service | Getty Images, Spondylolithesis

Yosemite National Park Celebrates Pride Month with 3rd Annual Parade

The National Park Service continues its long-standing history of support and recognition for the LGBTQ+ community of America.

Yosemite National Park is known for its towering grey Half Dome and its white cascading waterfalls, but this week the iconic park got a serious splash of color: Yosemite hosted its third annual Pride parade.

Rangers and visitors alike took to the streets of the park to celebrate natural love among the park's natural beauty for its employees, waving rainbow flags and stopping to snap pics at the iconic Yosemite Falls.

The NPS posted that as a park, they want to make sure "Yosemite is a place where all feel safe and welcome to take pride in their environment" and, furthermore, to "foster relationships of mutual respect with plants, animals and each other."

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As Pattie Gonia, environmentalist, community organizer, and LGBTQ+ outdoor icon, highlighted in a recent Instagram post, the Yosemite Pride parade is for park employees, not necessarily a Pride for visitors.

Still, some detractors on social media voiced that politics should stay out of parks and that our park system is supposed to be about preserving and educating about nature. But LGBTQ+ history is an established component of our national park history: Stonewall National Monument, Henry Gerber House, and Alice Austen's Clear Comfort were all designated national monuments or historic landmarks because of their noteworthiness to shaping U.S. history—directly parallel to their marks on queer history.

And many noteworthy scientists and naturalists who contributed to the national park system, like noted geologist Dr. Clyde Wahrhaftig, were avid part of the LGBTQ+ community. The NPS being involved in the LGBTQ+ community is, at its core, tradition rather than politics.

On a different note, some naysayers on Instagram expressed annoyance at the idea of having a "huge, loud, obnoxious party parade" in a place where people come to connect with nature. But anyone who's visited Yosemite on any given day in the past few years knows that the breathtaking playground is overflowing with traffic jams and hoards of tourists. Quite frankly, it can be anything but tranquil and uncrowded without an event going on.

More deafening were the many attendees and Instagram commenters who expressed support and gratitude for this community they feel welcome and safe in. And we think it's great to see the NPS' continuing its long-standing history of reaffirming that our parks are places for everyone to enjoy the outdoors.

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