Albuquerque gathered to celebrate 2019 LGBTQ Pride parade this past Saturday. This year was the 50th anniversary of Stonewall — the riots that largely impacted the LGBTQ movement and continues to resonate to this day. Despite the intense Albuquerque heat, a crowd of thousands of people gathered along Central Avenue.
The Daily Lobo profiled people who attended and participated in this year’s event.
Dr. Lois Meyer, a University of New Mexico professor from the Department of Language, Literacy and Sociocultural Studies. She said she saw a piece of her hometown reflected in Albuquerque’s energy levels on Saturday morning. Though she was experiencing her first Pride parade, she found it to be “simply wonderful,” she said.
“I am stunned at how enthusiastic everyone is,” Meyer said, while stopping to marvel at the number of floats rolling past her. “I used to live in San Francisco, so it’s wonderful to see this in Albuquerque,” she added.
Tori Cárdenas, attending her fifth Pride parade, said she was grateful for the great turnout she saw on Saturday morning. Cárdenas is getting her master’s degree in poetry at the University of New Mexico. She is also a Daily Lobo alumna.
She said that events like Pride parades are important, because they advocate for the inclusion which can lead to long-term benefits, such as improved healthcare.
“It is hard as a member of the LGBTQ community to find good access to healthcare,” Cárdenas siad. “Having events like this affects so much of the community and it sort of ripples out and hopefully creates change along the way.”
Autumn Hoover, a 12-year-old student at South Valley Academy, said Pride is about diversity. This was her first time attending the Albuquerque Pride parade and described it as empowering.
“It’s just amazing to see young people, old people, people of any gender, people of any color,” Hoover said.
Hoover said she hopes that events like Saturday’s parade will serve as a form of awareness to the general public on what Pride represents, which will result in larger turnouts for Pride-related events in the future.
Luna Vega said she attends several Pride parades annually as a way of showing support of her sister and her sister’s partner. Vega was in attendance with them as well as her niece, Araceli.
She brings Araceli to every Pride parade, because “it is important to expose her to different cultures and different people, so when she grows older, she’s going to recognize these things and think they’re beautiful,” Vega said.
Araceli, 4, said she loved how much candy she collected at the parade.
“I think (parades are) a lot of fun,” she said while proudly showing off the necklaces she got from a nearby float.
Matthew Torrez, who works for the City of Albuquerque attended his first pride parade Saturday morning in remembrance of Stonewall. He said he believes that to partake in pride is to both celebrate the past as well as “look to a brighter future.” Torrez said he is confident that the communal nature of pride parades can positively impact future generations.
“Its impact can show future generations that it’s not all hate and war out there, that a community can come together and celebrate something,” he said. “Whether it’s Pride or, you know, United winning a game, it’s nice to see a community come together.”
Laverne Lopez, a board member for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), has been attending Pride parades since she met her wife seven years ago. She said her favorite part of Saturday’s Pride parade was seeing mothers give free hugs to parade participants and supporters. Due to her expertise in AFSP, the importance of the mothers’ gesture was not lost on Lopez.
“Suicide is a big deal in the gay community,” Lopez said. “To see these moms be here for other kids, it’s a big thing. These kids out here get to see so many people and know they’re not alone.”
Lopez said she is a strong advocate for mental health awareness, especially in the LGBT community.
Heather Gutheinz, a nurse in Albuquerque, hopes the enthusiasm she saw at pride will be channeled into a call for change in how the LGBTQ community is treated.
“The long-term impact of this — hopefully — is change. I love the support Albuquerque shows every year, but we really need to start using our voices in terms of votes,” said Gutheinz.
Gutheinz believes that everyone should be concerned with changing legislation that disenfranchises the LGBTQ community.
“Don’t sit around just because you don’t identify as a certain group. Don’t sit around and let it happen to them. It’s not right either way,” she said.
Zane Stephens, the co-director of the Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico, paraded on a float that he designed to reflect elements of transgender history. The float included names and photos of people and places that have impacted the transgender movement.
Stephens said he wants to specifically honor transgender women of color, because “without them, the transgender resource center would probably not exist.”
“I’m a transgender white male, and it’s my job to be able to acknowledge my own privilege and acknowledge the shoulders I stand on, which belong to transgender women of color, Stephens said. “And that’s primarily who we serve during the day at the resource center.”
Beatrice Nisoli is a freelance reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @DailyLobo.