The National Park Service (NPS) and U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) commemorated Pride Month on Tuesday by posting photographs on Instagram of rainbows adorning picturesque national park landscapes.
“The National Park Service preserves a variety of places commemorating America’s multi-faceted history and is devoted to preserving, protecting, and telling the stories of ALL Americans,” the NPS wrote along with a picture of a rainbow over Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Arizona and Nevada. “Discover stories that tell the contributions of the LGBTQ+ community to the nation’s history in parks across the country.”
The post then links to the section of the NPS website that commemorates the “LGBTQ heritage” of NPS by attempting to link some of the national parks and historical sites to homosexuality or transgender behavior.
Examples include linking the Battle of Vicksburg site in Mississippi to a woman named Jennie Hodges, who pretended to be a male soldier and enlisted in the Union Army. The NPS entry on Hodges uses both feminine and masculine pronouns to describe her. NPS also uses the Battle of Little Big Horn site in Montana to talk about transgender Native Americans, writing, “This area memorializes the U.S. Army’s 7th Cavalry and the Sioux and Cheyenne in one of the Indian’s last armed efforts to preserve their way of life. Here on June 25 and 26 of 1876, 263 soldiers, including Lt. Col. George A. Custer and attached personnel of the U.S. Army, died fighting several thousand Lakota, and Cheyenne warriors. Cheyenne male two spirits (he’emane’o), who dressed in women’s clothing, had important roles in the community in celebrating battle victories.”
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The DOI, of which the NPS is a part, also weighed in on Pride Month, posting a photo of a rainbow arching over Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho.
“Happy PRIDE!” the post read along with a rainbow emoji. “At Interior, we are devoted to preserving, protecting, and telling the stories of ALL Americans. We acknowledge the continuing efforts of all those who fight for equality, promote tolerance and acceptance, and embrace diversity. Happy LGBTQ+ #PrideMonth!” the DOI wrote.
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In 2014, the DOI announced a new heritage initiative to commemorate LGBT history. As NPS Director Jonathan Jarvis at the time wrote in part:
The men and women who serve in the National Park Service joined our organization to be part of something special, and all of us, no matter what our role, help bring America’s stories to life for our visitors. One of my priorities as we look toward the Service’s centennial year in 2016 has been to ensure that the stories we tell represent the diversity of the American experience and share stories that are relevant to all Americans.
The National Park Service has a responsibility to protect, preserve and tell the stories of some of our nation’s most iconic places, and as part of that responsibility, it is our job to be sure that Americans never forget where we’ve been, where we are, and what we aspire to be as a nation. I am excited to see how the outcomes of the LGBT Heritage Initiative and theme study will allow us to share a more inclusive version of our uniquely American experience.
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