As Pride month commences, The LGBTQ Resource Center at the University of New Mexico serves as a home for many students, Frankie Flores said. Flores serves as the center’s director, as well as a mentor and advocate for students.
“My mission with this field – with the work that I do – is to make sure that our students, from admission to graduation, feel honored, affirmed and welcomed on this campus, which can be everything from helping them get food from the local food pantry to suicide deescalation,” Flores said.
The resource center provides counseling, HIV testing, computer access and food to students. In addition to their normal services, Flores said that the center’s staff has been working to plan pride month for the UNM community. The resource center has eleven events planned for this month.
This year, the schedule for Pride month has grown, as the resource center has decided to not participate in the Albuquerque Pride Parade nor the events, and focus their efforts on campus. Their decision was partially made because of Albuquerque Pride’s intended association with the Albuquerque Police Department, Flores said.
“There was the involvement of APD that was rescinded, which, even though you took it back, the intention was still there. So I talked to students, staff and faculty administration and (was) like, ‘this is what I'm feeling,’” Flores said. “I am a representative of the resource center, but I am not the resource center.”
It was important that everyone’s opinion was included, Flores said, when making the decision to not attend the parade. They consulted the resource center’s advisory board as well as queer student groups at UNM.
“We have an advisory board. They voted unanimously for us not to join,” Flores said. “The Juniper Reimagined – which is our queer student group – they all voted for us not to participate either. So we had some real backing from the UNM community.”
Jacob Griego graduated from UNM in the spring of 2023 and is volunteering at the resource center this summer. Griego is supporting Flores through Pride month, as well as tabling for new student orientation. Griego said that he is supportive of the resource center’s decision to not participate in the Albuquerque Pride Parade.
“The police have been victimizing our community for so many years, so I understand that by separating from that, we're able to further what we need to do as a community to heal from that because that trauma still is very much existent, but also to kind of continue working for better,” Griego said.
The resource center is focused on making their programming for pride more accessible for the community. Not participating in Albuquerque Pride gave them more money to utilize.
“We spend thousands of dollars on (Albuquerque) Pride every year. I struggle with it because I don't know what the direct payoff is for our community,” Flores said.
One event the center planned includes “UNM Comes Out to Pride Block Party” on June 23, which Flores said they are excited about. The block party is intended to function as the community’s mini Pride to give UNM students a space to celebrate themselves on campus.
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“We're bringing in drag queens … And what's really exciting is we are bringing in a lot of newcomers – one who's a student here … and they have never performed. So we are giving them that platform. So again, we're keeping it UNM centered,” Flores said.
Flores will also be performing in drag at the block party. Watching and learning from them has been important to Griego, as well as a large influence on the queer community.
“I love drag in general, but watching Frankie has always been really cool because not only (are they) a role model in the UNM queer community, but also in the queer community to begin with,” Griego said. “I'm really excited to continue working with them and see all the things that they do.”
Flores is also leading a lecture on June 28 titled, “Queering UNM History.” Flores is interested in focusing their education and resources on the UNM community. All the events are free to the community with the exception of the Planet Taz “Queer Prom” that they are co-hosting with Meow Wolf.
“I think it's just gonna be fun for staff and faculty and students who are here to just come across the street essentially,” Flores said.
In addition to supporting Flores and the resource center throughout the summer, he is excited to spend Pride month celebrating himself, Griego said.
“I want to celebrate myself. Especially now in this political climate and the fact that Target's under attack. We go through Twitter comments and I'm getting this hate mail. It's so vicious in the world right now … But by existing, by being present, by celebrating who I am, I'm rebelling against that,” Greigo said.
Addison Key is the culture editor at the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @addisonkey11
Addison Key is a senior reporter at the Daily Lobo and served as the Summer 2023 culture editor. She can be reached on Twitter @addisonkey11.