The Santa Fe Human Rights Alliance has an almost entirely new board, and Michael Davis has served as president since January. Originally from South Carolina, Davis moved to Santa Fe in 2016, and he hopped on the phone with SFR recently to chat about the first Santa Fe Pride under his watch. Davis says that in his new role, he hopes to move beyond simply holding a parade every year—he's got bigger plans.
You and the entire board are new as of January. What are the pros and cons of that? You've got new ideas but everyone's kind of new at the job.
In all fairness, there is one board member that has been part of the board for centuries—our secretary, Calvin Fields—but everyone else is new. I think one of the biggest contributing factors that gave us momentum this time, as opposed to previous administrations, is that we do have kind of a new take on how boards work. Number one, we didn't have the legacy of two or three or five or six years on the board. We all have our first board experience together. So in many ways, that allowed us to critically think about how we're being perceived. And number two, we started out with a question: Why? You know, why Pride? Why a parade? We spent some time in that space, asking ourselves, 'Why do we need a Pride Parade?' And that began a journey of redefining what we're doing with HRA in contrast to what the vision is. What are we actually putting out? Are we just one big formal event planning committee, or do we have more to say?
What kind of new stuff are you trying to say? How do you move beyond just being an event planning committee?
We feel like we need to get beyond just the Pride parade. So we partnered with local businesses, we partnered with Meow Wolf, they have an amazing kind of queer art therapy program they're running down there. We're also trying to partner with colleges that have LGBT youth groups, we're trying to partner with local high schools. I'm not saying we get out of the parade organization, but we're letting our vision speak towards those programs and then we just happen to put on the parade every year to celebrate those programs.
What are HRA and Pride doing to create a welcoming atmosphere? Gay and lesbian people are accepted in the LGBTQIA+ community, but what about the other letters in that acronym?
That's a really good question, and that was one of our first questions at our first board meeting. We asked ourselves the same thing. We are the Human Rights Alliance, we're not the LGBTQ rights alliance, were not the trans rights alliance. We have to look at it from a social movement standpoint. We can't isolate ourselves to one demographic. We're shifting that and getting into more of an ally space, more of a legislative space, more of a collaborative space, especially when it comes to non-LGBT folks. Our obstacle is just getting some serious buy-in from the community.