Yellowstone Park Rangers marching in Montana Pride Parade

Montana’s Pride week parade kicks off this weekend in Bozeman. The state’s Lesbian, Gay Bisexual and Transgender (or LGBT) community puts on the event coinciding with LGBT Pride Month. Representatives from Yellowstone National Park will be marching in the parade–in uniform.

This will be the second year Yellowstone is showing support for gay rights at the parade. Yellowstone National Park Spokesman Dan Hottle says it’s like many events the Park does throughout the year to celebrate the country’s diversity.

“So just like African American History, Women’s History, Asian Pacific American Heritage month, We are taking part in Gay and Lesbian pride month,” Hottle said.

Last year was the first time Yellowstone took part in the parade. The decision was not top down. Hottle says park staff received word that organizing something for Pride month would be OK.

“When employees got together and they realized they have the support of not only Yellowstone’s Superintendent but all the way up as far as the Secretary of the Interior I think that gave them the confidence that they could stand up take part as employees in Uniform,” he said.

Gay and straight Yellowstone Park Rangers will be marching in the parade, holding a banner and several rainbow flags. After the parade, the rangers will set up a booth to speak to people about the park and pass out information.

Yellowstone Administrative Support Assistant Kevin Franken is gay. He describes marching in the parade in uniform as an empowering and energizing experience.

“This is a great opportunity to show people that we are their friends, their co-workers, neighbors and the Park Rangers  that educate them about National Parks like Yellowstone,” Franken said.

Montana Human Rights Network Organizer Jamee Greer will be also be marching in the parade tomorrow and giving a speech. He calls the participation of Yellowstone an encouraging sign of solidarity—and not just because of the park’s proximity to Bozeman.

“Also the message it sends to LGBT people that we’re welcome,” Greer said, “we’re valued and the National Park Service has members of its staff that are clearly supportive of LGBT equality.”

 The Montana Pride Parade begins at 11 tomorrow morning, marching down Main Street in Bozeman.

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