Banyan Fierer, the executive director of PRIDE Santa Fe, says that Santa Fe's LGBTQ community has historically been somewhat disjointed.
"You have all the gay guys hanging out with all the gay guys, and all the lesbians hanging out with all the lesbians, and then maybe one trans person, if that, in the corner looking for their friend," Fierer tells SFR. "And you could see and experience the disjointedness of this community."
PRIDE Santa Fe, which organizes the city's annual Pride Parade in June, is working to bring the community together with a bold new initiative: FOLQ, an LGBTQ community center. Officially open this week, Fierer says the center aims to offer support groups, pro bono counseling, youth events, DJ nights and a gallery space for queer art.
"All of this is totally DIY, so think about Meow Wolf eight years ago," Fierer says. "We're not Meow Wolf, because we're a community organization, but they started in a similar way—taking risks, but still having structure."
FOLQ is located at 2351 Fox Road, Ste. 600, about half a mile from Meow Wolf and in the space that, until recently, housed the East of West gallery. It's around 2,000 square feet, with an open upstairs and downstairs space, each consisting of two smaller rooms. Fierer heard the location was available only weeks ago and jumped on the opportunity.
"The impact is so big for such a little cost. For $1,800 a month rent and utilities, monetarily, versus the social action and change and transformation, not just for LGBTQ folks, but for the entire Santa Fe community to know that people are being supported."
The center, which Fierer says is the first of its kind in Santa Fe, is intergenerational and drug and alcohol-free. It's also something of a calculated risk—the group is currently fundraising to cover each month's rent.
"There's something to be said for taking risks," Fierer says. "LGBTQ folks for years have had to take risks, possibly for centuries. And sometimes they paid dearly for it, sometimes they were rewarded for it. At this point it's about visibility and inviting people and disseminating this information and seeing that we have at least a foundation. We may not have all of the architecture or all of the programming set up, but we had an opportunity, we grabbed it, and now we're in the midst of saying: 'Would you like to support this?'"