On Saturday, June 11, hundreds of people gathered along Central Avenue in Albuquerque to celebrate Pride Month with the annual parade and festival. Featuring more than 70 floats and countless artworks, the event promoted unity through acceptance, respect and hope.
Friends, volunteers, rainbow-decorated police officers and political figures joined in on the largest event of this year’s New Mexico Pride festivities to celebrate the broader LGBTQ+ community and the work it took to get here.
Claudia Gonzales, with her employer Macy’s, volunteered in the organization and implementation of the parade. While she explained that the parade had a rocky start due to minor organizational issues, including an unexpectedly high number of floats, she enjoyed her time working the event, saying the parade still came together nicely.
“It was a little hectic at first, we didn't have too much organization … (but), maybe, halfway through we finally got it all down and it was really fun,” Gonzales said.
Joining in the celebration of sex and gender liberation was Justice Julie Vargas of the New Mexico Supreme Court and her communications and publicity team.
“It's important to come out (to the parade) and show that everyone is entitled to be treated equally,” Vargas said. “Pride is such an important day to celebrate … (and) today it was so nice to see so many people out happy, excited, celebrating.”
After the parade, friends Alexandria, Kanaya and Alex, whose father requested the three be referred to by first names only, walked along the parade’s track with their arms linked, celebrating Pride Month, one another and the event thus far.
To Kanaya, the celebration of pride is freeing. In a society where presenting sex and gender outside of the cisgendered and heterosexual norms can be treated as shameful or even dangerous, the ever-growing community of LGBTQ+ people is constantly working to combat the negativity — and to great results.
“It's just really accepting yourself and not feeling, like, ashamed … it's just not feeling shame in your identity when (you’ve) been told to feel shame in your identity,” said Kanaya.
For Alex, the celebration of pride is reflective and appreciative. It’s about paying thanks to those who dedicated themselves to sexual freedom for the broader LGBTQ+ community, preceeding and current.
“It’s about recognizing how far we've gone as a community and recognizing all of those who have fought for us in the past and how we are able to express ourselves today,” said Alex.
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To Alexandria, the festivals for Pride Month are about one thing in its many facets: liberation — the liberation of one's own body, mind and space. To Alex, the fight for LGBTQ+ rights has been long and hard, and isn’t over. As queer communities join together each June to celebrate, this liberation remains in constant motion.
Natalie Jude is the design director at the Daily Lobo. They can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @natalaroni