For a long time in Jackson, there was nowhere for the LGBTQ+ community to gather publicly.
In 2014, that changed with the first Teton Pride Picnic. The picnic will celebrate its fifth year Friday from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Mike Yokel Park Picnic Pavilion.
The picnic is intended for members of the LGBTQ+ community in Jackson to interact with one another, make friends, and establish bonds in a safe and welcoming environment.
“For many years in Jackson, there wasn’t a public venue where folks could come out specifically to celebrate the LGBTQ population,” said Mark Houser, Jackson PFLAG coordinator. “The last four picnics had the central component of people being in a joyful, happy place.”
Houser doesn’t expect this year to be any different. The picnic is a potluck, organized by Jackson PFLAG and cosponsored by Wyoming Equality, and participants are encouraged to bring food to share.
Since the first Teton Pride Picnic, there have been significant strides in LGBTQ+ acceptance and visibility in Jackson. Just in the last year, a nondiscrimination ordinance was passed unanimously by the Jackson Town Council, the LGBTQ pride dance party celebrated its second year at the Pink Garter Theatre and people supporting the LGBTQ+ community walked in the Old West Days parade for the first time in history.
“I think that is encouraging to folks in our community, whether or not they attend the picnic. I think there is somewhat of a shift of climate here in Jackson,” Houser said. “In conversations with individuals I’ve seen that shift. It seems that more individuals in our community are being supported.”
Houser stressed that the Teton Pride Picnic is an all-ages event, where anyone should be able to feel comfortable. Houser also credited SAGA, the sexuality and gender alliance at Jackson Hole High School, with being an integral part of encouraging LGBTQ+ acceptance among teenagers locally.
The Teton Pride Picnic is only one of thousands of pride events taking place across the United States this month. Gay pride is typically commemorated in June to mark the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York.
No matter who you love, what you wear, what pronouns you use, or how you choose to take up space in the world — you’re welcome at the Teton Pride Picnic.