Reflections on Pride Month 2020

Charlotte Overby
|June 29, 2020

The end of June marks the close of Pride month, a time when people around the world typically celebrate LGBTQ+ history, culture, and civil rights victories.

At the Conservation Lands Foundation, and among the broader conservation community, we have only recently begun to explore and acknowledge the leadership of LGBTQ+ people and their contributions to conservation. It has been a long time coming, and as part of the larger conservation community, we are on the path of educating ourselves, striving to be more inclusive, and honoring those from whom we continue to learn.

Far from comprehensive, below are some highlights of Pride Month 2020 we want to share:

  • This year, many Pride event organizers around the country gave the stage to, or collaborated with, Black Lives Matter activists. LGBTQ+ activists made commitments to give their voices to the fight against racism and end white supremacy. In short, this year’s Pride parties turned into Pride protests.
  • On June 15th, the Supreme Court ruled that the language of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sex discrimination, includes protections for gay, lesbian and transgender workers from workplace discrimination. “An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law,” Justice Neil M. Gorsuch wrote for the majority in the 6-to-3 ruling.
  • The Navajo Nation Council signed a proclamation officially recognizing Diné Pride Week (celebrated June 22-28 this year). First held in 2017, advocates continue to work to over-turn the Diné Marriage Act passed in 2005 by the Navajo Nation Council, which defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman and prohibits same-sex marriage.
  • For the first time in CLF’s history, we organized the “Conservation PRIDE: Supporting and Empowering LGBTQ Conservation Leaders” webinar. Feedback provided inspiration for future webinars:
    • “This was a great start to a conversation…”
    • “I personally would have liked more history of LGBTQ involvement with the environmental movement! But overall, a lovely start to hopefully a long series of webinars!!! Young LGBTQ people are often obsessed with nature, and they are truly a force for good to be tapped into by organizations.”
  • Social media continues to be a great resource for both education and unifying our voices. Below are a few of the many Instagram communities that promote and educate others about LGBTQ+ and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) who enjoy nature and work for its protection. CLF has used our channels to elevate their voices and has asked our Friends Grassroots Network to do the same--and not just during Pride month.
    • @unlikelyhikers
      Unlikely Hikers
      Diversity + Community + Body Liberation Outdoors
      Created by Jenny Bruso, who also has a regular podcast
    • @wilddiversity
      Wild Diversity
      We are creating waves for genuine diversity and equity in outdoor education and adventures for the BIPOC & LGBTQ communities
    • @pattiegonia
      Pattie Gonia
      She’s your backcountry queen.
      Environmental advocate-in-progress of diversity and inclusivity in the outdoors + drag queen
    • @indigequeers
      Centering stories of nonbinary, two-spirit, transnatives in the outdoors
  • June 2020 marks the 4th anniversary of the designation of the Stonewall National Monument, located in New York City, which honors the beginning of the modern-day LGBTQ+ equality movement. Fed up with unchecked police brutality and legal discrimination, The Stonewall Inn was the site of six days of protests and riots by the LGBT community, including outspoken Black American gay liberation activist and outspoken drag queen, Marsha P. Johnson. On June 24, 2016, President Obama, under the authority of the Antiquities Act, designated the Stonewall Inn, 51-53 Christopher Street, NYC, the Stonewall National Monument. The Antiquities Act has been used by presidents of both parties to designate national monuments, including Bears Ears, Fort Ord, Basin and Range, and many more.

I am a staff member at CLF and also lesbian, with a partner who is a person of color. We have both experienced discrimination individually and together--including while in the outdoors. I am supported by my CLF colleagues and, as an organization, we embrace Pride Month celebrations to strengthen our commitment to fulfilling our mission, recognizing the vital importance for all people to be welcomed, safe, and valued in the outdoors and conservation.

We acknowledge those who fought against police harassment and brutality, and the resistance still being waged by marginalized communities around the world. We celebrate Pride because we honor those courageous people who refuse to accept humiliation and fear, and instead, choose to live fully, freely and authentically. We gain strength from the resilience of the LGBTQ+ community, as well as from joining in the fight for acceptance and love.

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About Charlotte Overby
Senior Field Director at Conservation Lands Foundation and New Mexico resident.
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