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Pride on the Plaza Packed

Organizer and attendees emphasize importance of visibility, community support efforts

Attendees dance June 29 during Pride on the Plaza. (Evan Chandler)

Santa Feans gathered on the Plaza June 29 in what organizers estimate were record numbers to celebrate Pride with music, dancing, vendors and more.

Human Rights Alliance of Santa Fe Executive Director Kevin Bowen tells SFR the event’s turnout was “undoubtedly” the largest he’s seen for Pride here.

“We’re thrilled, because we need to be front and center, and we need to be forward and cement our presence in the city,” Bowen says. “I think that’s the key to the whole thing, and we need to show the rest of the community what we’re about.”

Bowen adds the organization will be conducting a geofencing study—using location-based data—to determine exact attendance.

He expects the results of that study in two to three days, but maintains: “We know it’s bigger than last year,” Bowen says.

Mayor Alan Webber tells SFR he was happy to see the turnout, especially given the rise in anti-LGBTQ+ legislation across the country. The American Civil Liberties Union has tracked 527 anti-LGBTQ+ bills to date this year.

“There are so many parts of Santa Fe that are like a beacon of hope when it comes to human rights values, but also other forms of inclusivity, and it all speaks to a sense of core values that people in our city hold, and I think today was a reflection of that,” Webber says. “There’s an effort to roll those rights and progress back, and we can’t let that happen.”

Many who attended had similar thoughts in their minds. Several drag and trans entertainers spoke and performed to cheers from a full crowd, including Miss Trans New Mexico Tiara Latrice. She will represent the state in the Trans USA National Pageantry later this year. She tells SFR she’s “excited and nervous” to compete for a state with “really great laws in place to protect trans people,” but more visibility is needed.

Miss Trans New Mexico Tiara Latrice will compete for the state in the Trans USA National Pageantry later this year. (Evan Chandler)

“It’s a new arena for me, but I really want to win—not for the crown or the money or anything like that—but because it would give me an opportunity to have a platform that I can do so much more work with,” Latrice says. “We have to make the doubters and the naysayers understand that we are here, and we’ve been here. There’s never been a time when there were not trans people, but we’re standing up now, and we’re coming out and saying, ‘We are here, and we should be able to live amongst everyone else.’”

The New Mexico chapter of Moms Demand Action, an organization fighting for public safety measures against gun violence and for gun safety, had a table at the event as well. State co-lead Becky Cox tells SFR attending was important to her because of what she says is “a direct tie” between gun violence and LGBTQ+ individuals.

“We do know that the LGBTQ+ community is disproportionately affected by gun violence,” Cox says. “It’s very important for us to be present in the community and show our support and show our awareness of the fact that it is so disproportionate, and we are actively trying to do something to end gun violence, especially in this community.”

The New Mexico Chapter of Moms Demand Action hosted a table at Pride on the Plaza to promote gun safety practices and to highlight how gun violence disproportionately affects LGBTQ+ individuals. (Evan Chandler)

Next on the Human Rights Alliance’s list, Bowen says, is work to open a brick-and-mortar center in Santa Fe.

“We want to have a place that is a coffeehouse, a safe space and a place where we can have support groups and mental health counseling—whatever the community needs,” he says, “and we’re thrilled because we’ve raised around $300,000 for that so far.”

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