Rain showers in the forecast are unlikely to put a damper on Santa Fe Pride festivities planned downtown and in other sites around the city this weekend, organizers say.
Pride Month, commemorating the activists who led the Stonewall Riots after the June 28, 1969, police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar in New York City, will culminate in Santa Fe on Saturday with a Pride Drive Parade and Pride on the Plaza festival, with live music and a drag show.
“It’s open to everyone — just come out and celebrate,” Santa Fe Human Rights Alliance Director Kevin Bowen said.
Mayor Alan Webber issued a proclamation this week declaring LGBTQ communities an “integral part of the vibrant culture and climate of Santa Fe.”
And City Manager John Blair announced Santa Fe is taking steps to become “the most queer-friendly city” in New Mexico. Among the initiatives he cited was the development of an anti-bullying policy for youth in city facilities.
Still, Pride celebrations in Santa Fe and across the U.S. come as lawmakers in many states have proposed a record number of bills targeting LGBTQ people. Some already have passed, such as one in Florida known by critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which limits how teachers can address gender and sexuality in classrooms.
“We’re super fortunate in New Mexico,” said Equality New Mexico Executive Director Marshall Martinez. “We haven’t had a single piece of anti-LGBTQ legislation passed — probably since the 1970s, if even then.”
There have been some attempts by lawmakers in recent years, Martinez said, but they gained no traction.
It’s a different story in neighboring states.
Arizona continues to exclude transgender health care from its Medicaid coverage after a federal appeals court this year denied a transgender teenager’s claim that failure to cover gender-affirming care was sex discrimination.
In March, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott directed state employees to launch child abuse investigations into families seeking gender-affirming care for their transgender children.
In Oklahoma last month, Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a bill into law requiring students at public schools to use the bathroom of the gender listed on their birth certificates.
Transgender students who decline to do so will have to use single-stall restrooms.
In March, Stitt banned transgender women and girls from competing on public school sports teams aligned with their gender.
“We are at a time where many of us at a certain age saw these changes happen,” Bowen said. “Now, it’s like, in a matter of years we’re going backwards.”
As a result of such laws in other states, Martinez said, his organization is seeing more families move to New Mexico, as well as younger single adults.
“Those folks are able to get the care they need here,” he said. “We live in a supportive environment. ... It’s also just a safer place for queer and young people in general to be.”
Martinez said there has been homophobic rhetoric in the state about whether supporting gay rights makes someone a “real” New Mexican.
He encouraged people to come out to events like Santa Fe Pride and take notice of who else is there.
“We’ll see aunties and grandmas at Santa Fe Pride,” he said. “Those so-called traditional families, they’ll be there.”
The Santa Fe Human Rights Alliance, which has organized Pride events in Santa Fe for years, began the week’s celebrations Sunday with the Kick Off T-Dance at Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery on Agua Fría Street.
The nonprofit alliance on Tuesday screened the 2020 documentary Cured, which explores how homosexuality in the U.S. was delisted as a mental illness in the 1970s, at the Jean Cocteau Cinema.
Festivities continued Thursday evening, with the sold-out Drag Bingo event at Opuntia Cafe in the Railyard.
Saturday’s parade begins at 11 a.m. at the PERA Building parking lot across from the state Capitol and will proceed to the Plaza.
National Weather Service predictions showed a 70 percent chance of rain Saturday, but Bowen isn’t worried. While the Human Rights Alliance wasn’t able to secure an indoor backup venue, he said, Pride booths on the Plaza will be under tents to provide cover.
Among the features at the event will be a youth area with face painting, a puppet show and booths from organizations like Santa Fe Public Schools’ Office of Student Wellness, the Santa Fe Public Library and Youth Shelters and Family Services.
“We know 40 percent of homeless youth are LGBTQIA because their parents have kicked them out of their homes,” Bowen said.
The Pride celebration will continue at 3 p.m. Saturday with Diversity Rocks the Block, a free block party in Burro Alley for people ages 21 and over.
Tumbleroot will host Pride After Dark at 8:30 p.m., with house music artist Crystal Waters providing a special guest performance.
Meow Wolf will host its own Pride party at 10 p.m., featuring drag artist group Saints Ball and Santa Fe-based writer and performer Quinn Alexander Fontaine.
Half of all ticket proceeds will go toward the Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico, Meow Wolf marketing manager Kate Daley said.
“One of our missions is to support underserved and LGBTQIA communities,” she added.
Ahead of the Pride parties Saturday, the Human Rights Alliance will host a statewide discussion at 1 p.m Friday at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center on resources and community support for LGBTQ New Mexicans. The talk features Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.
Bowen said the intention of the discussion, which will be streamed online, is to eventually establish a broader state coalition for LGBTQ communities, including in New Mexico’s more rural areas.
“We’re opening a dialogue across many lines now within our community,” he said.