The annual celebration of Pride Month kicked off Wednesday, and a full calendar of Jackson Hole events will be highlighting the local LGBTQ+ community throughout June—and inviting allies to join in.
The local playwright, comedian and actor Andrew Munz is a longtime organizer within Teton County’s queer community. He said this year’s local Pride will feature its largest slate of happenings yet.
“It is recognition and celebration,” he said, “really no more or less important than an Old West Days celebration.”
For the first time, on June 6, Jackson Mayor Hailey Morton Levinson will be making an official Pride Month proclamation on behalf of the town. The Jackson Hole Pride website and social media hashtag #jhpride will also be highlighting events open to the public throughout the month, including a “Caravan of Glam” at the Center for the Arts on June 10, queer kickball matches on June 17 and 24 and a Pride Climbing Day at Exum Mountain Guides on June 25.
“It’s meant to highlight and offer opportunity and community and networking for queer individuals who happen to live everywhere in the world,” Munz said.
One other unique festivity will take place June 3: Prom Dress Rugby. Kate McKenzie is vice president of the Jackson Hole Moose Women’s Rugby Club, and she said her organization has been working in coordination with LGBTQ+ team members to make the match as inclusive as possible.
“It was just a chance to kind of be loud and proud,” McKenzie said, “and let people know that we’re there and our doors are open, and you’re welcome to come and fly a freak flag and join the club.”
Playing a full-contact sport in a dress is entertaining and fun on its own, McKenzie said, but it also creates a safe space for folks to act as their authentic selves. Rugby is a sport where communication and trust is key because players often can’t see who they’re passing to. So, McKenzie said, the catchphrase “with you” is a major theme amongst her teammates both on and off the pitch.
“We just want to let everybody that may need a little bit of support within Pride and is still trying to figure out where their place is and where their support system can be, that we’re with them and we’re here with open arms,” she said.
Munz said making LGBTQ+ folks more visible in an isolated place like Jackson Hole is important in terms of visibility for issues the queer community faces.
“We look at Jackson as this kind of blue dot in a red state, but ultimately our foundation is red,” he said. “Jackson may be on its own little island in terms of like how it votes or how, you know, it treats its local citizens. But at the same time, we are still restricted by Wyoming laws and Wyoming representation—or lack thereof.”
Pride Month pays homage to the Stonewall Uprising of 1969 in New York City, which has been credited with starting the modern gay rights movement.