June 14, 2021 |The Conservation Fund | Community Development

Taking PRIDE in LGBTQ+ History and Access to Nature

The birthplace of Pride month

On June 28, 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club in Greenwich Village in New York City. A riot ensued, with protesters demanding the establishment of safe places where LGBTQ+ people could go openly without fear of arrest. The community’s uprising in response to the police raid sparked the modern LGBTQ+ civil rights movement in the United States. The following year, the first Gay Pride Week and Parade were organized in New York City, and this movement has evolved into the June Pride celebrations we know today.

6 14 21 Photo by Warren EisenbergPhoto by Warren Eisenberg.

June 2021 marks the five-year anniversary of the establishment of Stonewall National Monument, a unit of the National Park Service located in Christopher Park across the street from the Stonewall Inn. Visitors, both virtual and in-person, can view photos displayed on the fence around Stonewall National Monument that visually tell the story of the LGBTQ rights movement. After your visit you can still have a drink at The Stonewall Inn, which exists as a private establishment and working bar.

6 14 21 Photo by NPCA Photos FlickrPhoto by NPCA Photos (Flickr.com).

An established movement from coast to coast (and in between)

Documenting and preserving local LGBTQ+ history isn’t just happening in big cities like New York City and San Francisco. The National Trust for Historic Preservation is working to save America’s historic places in cities, towns, and rural communities, which they recognize are sites that cannot be replaced once lost. Their website states, “We believe all Americans deserve to see their history in the places that surround us. As a nation, we have work to do to fill in the gaps of our cultural heritage.” They reference LGBTQ heritage sites across the nation, including The Factory in Los Angeles, CaliforniaGiovanni’s Room bookstore in Philadelphia, and sites along the iconic Route 66.

LGBTQ+ people have experienced, and still experience, great challenges related to equity and inclusion. We believe that recognizing the places, events, and people connected to LGBTQ+ community is important. Places like the Stonewall Inn in New York City, and other sites in smaller cities and towns throughout our country, remind us to learn from the past while leading us toward a more inclusive future.

Organizations creating connections to nature in the LGBTQ+ community

Nature should be a welcoming place for all, with equal opportunities to connect with the great outdoors. We want to recognize the important work being done by several organizations to make this a reality, including:

Wild Diversity
6 14 21 Wild Diversity
Photo by Wild Diversity.

Wild Diversity facilitates connections to the outdoors to create a sense of belonging for Black, Indigenous, all People of Color (BIPOC) and the LGBTQ+ community. They do this by providing outdoor adventures, outdoor education, and community workshops. Sliding scales, education, scholarships, and gear lending have been implemented to combat economic barriers.

Wild Diversity was founded by Mercy M’fon Shammah in 2017 to create a supportive community for the growing numbers of POC and Queer outdoor enthusiasts. With over 15 years of experience in community leadership, Mercy’s goal is to bring change and diversity to the outdoor industry.

The Venture Out Project
6 14 21 Credit Palmer Morse Sprucetone Films 1Photo by Palmer Morse, Sprucetone Films.

The Venture Out Project provides safe and fun outdoor experiences for queer, trans, and LGBTQ+ people by leading backpacking and wilderness trips. Their vision is a world where queer, trans, and LGBTQ+ youth and adults create community, develop leadership skills, and gain confidence through the shared experience of outdoor adventure and physical activity.

Perry Cohen founded The Venture Out Project in 2014 to combine his passion for the outdoors with his commitment to social justice and his trans and queer identity. Perry’s extensive experience includes leading multi-day hiking, mountain biking, and backcountry skiing trips, as well as roles as camp counselor and High 5 Adventure strategic planning and leadership consulting.

Queer Nature
6 14 21 Queer Nature
Winter wildlife tracking in the High Rockies. Photo by Queer Nature.

Queer Nature provides nature education and ancestral skills programs to local LGBTQ+ communities. Queer Nature believes that ecological awareness and wilderness self-reliance skills are an important part of healing in marginalized populations. To facilitate this critical work, their curriculum goes beyond nature-based recreation to deep and creative engagement with the natural world to build inter-species alliances and a sense of belonging and wholeness.

Pınar Sinopoulos-Lloyd and Sophia Sinopoulos-Lloyd founded Queer Nature in 2015. In 2020, Pınar was the recipient of Audubon National Society’s National Environmental Champion as well as R.I.S.E. Indigenous 2020 Art & Poetry Fellowship. Sophia has had their writing published in The Wayfarer, Written River, Loam, and Circles on the Mountain.

Out There Adventures
6 14 21 Out There Adventures
Photo by Out There Adventures.

Out There Adventures has a simple goal of empowering queer young people through their connection with the natural world. Programs include outdoor education, recreation, courses, and community service that provide a sense of community in a safe environment. Out There Adventures allows every youth the opportunity to explore their identity in a positive environment.

Elyse Rylander founded Out There Adventures in 2012 and has worn many hats in the outdoor industry and education worlds. Since 2006 she has taken thousands of youths and adults on outdoor adventures all over North America, and during these adventures, the interrogation of equity, access, and privilege played a central role. In 2018 Elyse was named a “Top Woman in Conservation and Environmental Justice” by ECODiversity Magazine.

Written by

The Conservation Fund

At The Conservation Fund, we make conservation work for America. By creating solutions that make environmental and economic sense, we are redefining conservation to demonstrate its essential role in our future prosperity. Top-ranked for efficiency and effectiveness, we have worked in all 50 states since 1985 to protect more than 8.8 million acres of land.