For the first time in 46 years, Albuquerque Pride is canceled. Not because of protesters or a hostile government, but an invisible enemy in the air that can strike anyone, leaving devastating effects. If you lived through the AIDS crisis in the 1980s and 1990s, you might be having flashbacks to that horrible time. Everyone was afraid. There were calls for quarantine for gay men. Flash forward to 2020, and we’re ALL in quarantine. Albuquerque Pride wasn’t canceled during the AIDS epidemic, but as we learned more about HIV, we learned how it is - and is NOT - transmitted. COVID-19 is a new (to humans anyway) disease that is mostly airborne. And therein lies its danger. No one knows who has it and who doesn’t unless they become sick. They could be contagious long before they exhibit symptoms. And if you have underlying medical conditions, such as HIV or cancer, as well as being over 60, your chance of death is much higher. Even healthy people have died from this disease. It strikes everyone differently. And that’s part of the problem. So the leaders of ABQ Pride made a wise choice to cancel this year’s Pride events. Hopefully, thanks to actions by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and local officials, we have hit the peak and cases, and deaths, will start to taper off. But that is unknown at this point. Hence the cancellation.
The cancellation has caused great disappointment in the LGBTQ+ community, but most understand why. For those that are upset about the cancellation, and for those that are disappointed, but get the reasoning, let’s examine what we call “Gay Pride.” Pride events can be traced back to 1970, the year following the Stonewall Riots in New York City. Stonewall was the turning point for the homosexual community. We collectively said, “We won’t take second class status anymore!” The following year, celebrations were held in various cities to show our pride. We began using our language rather than the clinical word homosexual. We chose “gay” because we each believe our lives are something to be celebrated, not something shameful. Something happy and cheerful. But our lives before Stonewall were not that way, and remain that way, in many places. Yet, we still celebrate Pride every year. We won’t be marching down Central Avenue or having a festival at the Santa Fe Plaza, but we can continue to carry our PRIDE in ourselves, what our community has accomplished, and how much work we still have to do. We can get married in all 50 states. But in over half the States, you can still be fired for being LGBTQ or denied housing or employment. Our pride carries us through these difficult situations. We know when we work together, we can make things better. We’re working on getting a federal, non-discrimination law passed so States won’t deny protections, and LGBTQ citizens will be protected under federal law. We’re working on acceptance of gender identity for our transgender brothers and sisters. We work to protect our kids in schools from bullying. We should be proud of our victories. We should celebrate them while forging ahead to become full citizens in this country.
A big parade, festival, and related events aren’t all there is to Pride. Pride means being YOU every day. It means becoming who you are supposed to be. It’s about taking pride in the steps getting there, as well as having a newfound respect for yourself living your own life. Pride is being held virtually by many organizations worldwide. You can join in with friends and families. You can celebrate along with the community. Hopefully, by the end of June, we’ll be hosting parties, dinners, or other events to celebrate. You can be proud of yourself, your community, and the ability to live as you choose. Pride is about loving and respecting yourself and your community. It’s about helping others come out of the closet and getting legislation passed to protect our community. It’s about meeting with your elected officials and pushing them! There are so many ways to celebrate Pride outside of just a few days a year. Let’s make PRIDE every day of the year! P&E - Mauro Walden-Montoya
P&E - After Print
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