ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The weather was hot and dry, but it was raining men – along with lesbians, bisexuals, transgender folks and their friends and allies – in Albuquerque’s Nob Hill neighborhood on Saturday.
The annual Pride Parade, a celebration of the LGBT community, marched along Central Avenue from the University of New Mexico to Expo New Mexico. Organizers estimated that 40,000 people participated by either dressing up and being part of a float, lining old Route 66 to celebrate the spectacle that passed, or by going to the festival that followed at the state fairgrounds. It was all part of PrideFest, a weekend-long event that continues today.
Saturday’s procession featured a variety of fancy floats, some decorated with rainbows, balloons and glitter, along with others that pumped music, such as the 1982 hit “It’s Raining Men.” The moving displays included a double-decker bus filled with a local acting troupe that celebrates LGBT personalities, drag queens showcasing their skills, welcoming churches promoting equality, and other groups of people of various races, ethnicities and sexual orientations. Some dressed up in outlandish and skimpy outfits, while others opted for business casual.
“You can see the different personalities,” said Richard Quintana, who took part in the parade with his employer, PrimeLending. “In every culture there are different groups, so everybody has their own character.”
A group of past Albuquerque Pride presidents said PrideFest is an important weekend for Albuquerque’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
“This is a time where you can be anything or anyone that you want and there is no judgment,” said P.J. Sedillo, a past president of Albuquerque Pride.
Many people at the event said it remains important to fight for equal rights.
“The fact that we (same-sex couples) can get married in every single state is wonderful, but you go to a place like North Carolina and someone can refuse to make you a wedding cake or even let you into their establishment,” Sedillo said. “There’s still a lot more that needs to change.”
Transgender rights have moved to the forefront of LGBT issues in light of several laws that forbid people using the restroom of their gender identity. Tommy Sloan, a female-to-male transgender, said the restrictive bathroom laws would put him in an awkward situation.
Sloan has facial hair and a deep voice and has undergone surgery to assist his transition, and he wasn’t getting stares by partaking in the parade with his shirt off.
“They’re forgetting that when they pass these laws it forces me back into the woman’s restroom, and nobody wants that,” Sloan said. “I don’t deal with it much because I pass, but I do have my trans-brothers who have been harassed and have gone to bathrooms and been assaulted. Everybody seems to think that trans people stick out. But we don’t. You’d have no idea. I’d be just another dude.”
Jazmine Jaramillo, a member of First Congregational United Church of Christ, was at the parade with a church group, which she said is about 50 percent LGBT. Jaramillo, who has been married to her wife for about six years, said there is still work to be done to make LGBT people feel welcomed.
“The focus right now is letting everyone know that you are welcome, you don’t have to be frowned upon,” she said.