LGBTQ History and the national parks

The LGBTQ Community and the National Parks system are working together to celebrate history throughout the parks.

Scroll to read LGBTQ history and the national parks, current stories in the Parks, and find organizations that are advancing LGBTQ inclusion outdoors.  


LGBTQ stories in the park

While the National Park Service has recently dedicated more funding and research toward honoring LGBTQ contributions, there is still much work to be done.


Grace Bourke - An Open Invitation To LGBTQ - Point Reyes National Seashore 

As a volunteer for Point Reyes National Seashore Associate, I was facilitating a photography weekend class at the park. It was Saturday night, and we were at the lighthouse. The lighthouse being lit at night was a special occasion. The size of the group was too large to all be in the lighthouse at one time. So, we split the group up. Half the class would go down to the lighthouse to photograph inside while the other half would wait at the top of the stairs. After an hour or so, we would switch. Somehow, I was the first facilitator at the top of the stairs. I like to think that I was gracious and volunteered (I’m not really sure that’s how it happened).


LGBTQ Heritage Celebrated By national park service

"The world changes in direct proportion to the number of people willing to be honest about their lives." -- Armistead Maupin

As America’s storytellers, the National Park Service (NPS) is committed to telling the history of all Americans in all of its diversity and complexity.

For many years, the rich histories of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Americans have been erased through punishing laws and general prejudice—appearing sporadically in police proceedings, medical reports, military hearings, and immigration records.


LGBTQ Heritage Theme Study

LGBTQ America: A Theme Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer History is a publication of the National Park Foundation for the National Park Service and funded by the Gill Foundation.

Each chapter is written and peer-reviewed by experts in LGBTQ Studies. For more information on the theme study, please read the LGBTQ Theme Study Fact Sheet. To preview all chapters at once, visit the series home page.


Series: LGBTQ America: A Theme Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer History

The LGBTQ Theme Study is a publication of the National Park Foundation for the National Park Service and funded by the Gill Foundation. Each chapter is written and peer-reviewed by experts in LGBTQ Studies.


National Register of Historic Places Program: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month June

June is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month. LGBT Pride Month is celebrated each year in the month of June to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan. The National Park Service highlights LBGTQ Heritage that encompasses more than just the National Register. We are pleased to promote awareness of and appreciation for the historical accomplishments of the LGBT community. We showcase historic properties listed in the National Register and National Park units commemorating the events and people that help illustrate LGBT contributions to American history.


Celebrating a Lasting Pride in Your Parks

Everyone loves a countdown. The crowds waiting for the final moment in Times Square on New Year’s Eve, hordes of hat-adorned visitors hoping for a glimpse of a royal wedding, your impatient stomach standing before the microwave’s timer as your pizza rolls cook, and a band called Europe in 1986.

June is Pride Month, and while Stonewall National Monument shares the unforgettable story of the 1969 protests year-round, this year celebrates World Pride 2019 in NYC. This annual event is slated to be the largest global Pride celebration. It will mark the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising and its pivotal role as the birthplace of the modern lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer civil rights movement.


List of LGBTQ monuments and memorials worldwide

Check out this extensive list of LGBTQ monuments and memorials that spans the globe!

This list will truly blow you away! 


He’s gay, Christian and 75% of the way to exploring all 417 national parks

Mikah Meyer is a man on a mission.

The 32-year-old adventurer is attempting to set a world record by becoming the youngest person to visit all 417 U.S. national parks. On Sunday, when he camped out at Death Valley National Park in California, he visited his 313th site, putting him 75% of the way there.

If all goes according to plan, Meyer will reach his goal on April 29, 2019, by climbing the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Alaska, with its difficult terrain and logistical challenges, will be his big push this summer.


untold stories: one group has gone almost entirely overlooked

In 1965, most gay men and lesbians never dreamed of coming out publicly. So when a small group of picketers gathered at Philadelphia’s Independence Hall on July 4 of that year with signs that seemed to broadcast their sexual orientation, bystanders were perplexed. One man instructed his children to hold their noses as they walked by. “But you couldn’t really be gay?” people asked. Some thought that they were actors. Or that it was a joke.

“We were discounted as crackpots,” says Kay Lahusen, an organizer who’s now 84. “Nobody had ever dared do this before.”


What the outdoor rec industry doesn’t get about the LGBTQ community

“Nature doesn’t care if you’re gay,” I’ll often hear in reaction to articles by myself or my outdoorsy LGBTQ peers. And it’s true. Nature doesn’t care if I’m gay.

But people do.

Two months ago, I finished a world-record journey to all 419 National Park Service sites. For three years nonstop, I lived in a van, hiked trails everywhere from American Samoa to the Arctic Circle, and accomplished an outdoors journey no human had ever done before. But comments about the trip have included things like, “Well now I need to be careful in the bathroom at national parks,” and “Why do you have to shove your lifestyle down our throats!” And a sponsor terminated our partnership halfway through the project, saying over the phone and in writing that I was doing too much LGBTQ outreach.


Gay Americans Get National Park Service Recognition

The announcement Friday that the National Park Service will begin installing markers at places of importance to the history of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans is a step toward including them in the national narrative — and components of education, supporters said.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell made the announcement Friday at the Stonewall Inn, the scene of riots in June 1969 that are widely credited with starting the modern gay rights movement. Stonewall was made a national historic landmark in 2000, and June is widely celebrated as LGBT Pride Month.


America’s National Parks Through the Eyes of a Gay Couple on an RV Journey to See Them All

As it turns out, national parks are the best medicine for homesickness. They’re also a source of comfort and inclusion, especially as a hiking-obsessed gay man hoofing it through red states.

America’s national parks have long been a source of inspiration and rejuvenation for my husband Brad and I, so when the opportunity presented itself to live in an RV and visit these beautiful places, I dove in head-first. A daunting considering I prefer to tiptoe into things, rather than plunge all at once.


Our Initiative

Our initiative is to diversify our national parks by using a three layered approach:

Awareness - get people to stop and realize there is a problem here
Education - give them exposure to first hand experiences 
Action - take action by donating, volunteering, or spreading awareness

We're focused on connecting to more diverse audiences and creating content with this audience in mind. Join Our Facebook Group below to join the discussion, share information, and connect with like-minded individuals. 


Organizations advancing LGBTQ inclusion outdoors

As an outdoor enthusiast, you may be wondering what you can to do support diversity, equity, and inclusion in the outdoors. There have been recent movements that have brought issues of inequality and racism in the outdoors to the forefront and has made us question what we can do to be better allies and help drive change.

See some of the organizations on the forefront of this change below.

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