History of LGBTQ+ in New Mexico
Pride in New Mexico, is embracing diversity and inclusivity which is deeply rooted in our history. Native American communities, including the Navajo, Zuni, Apache, Tewa, Tiwa, and Keres, have long celebrated a unique understanding of gender and sexuality, with traditions that include cross-dressing and the recognition of diverse gender roles. The Navajo, for example, had four recognized gender roles, including “nádleehi” individuals, who played essential societal roles and had developed a language for queerness, widely accepted within their community.
New Mexico has been a trailblazer in championing LGBTQ+ rights and inclusivity. Notably, the state repealed its anti-sodomy law in 1975, positioning itself among the earliest U.S. states to do so. The hate crime law, since 2003, explicitly addresses hate crimes based on various factors, including sexual orientation and gender identity. Robust anti-discrimination laws have been put in place, ensuring protection for all individuals. The state has also tackled bullying in schools through comprehensive legislation.
New Mexico also stands out for its transgender rights, allowing individuals to change their legal gender without surgery and introducing a “neutral” gender marker (“X”) on official documents. In 2023, the state passed groundbreaking legislation to protect gender-affirming care, abortion, and sexual reassignment surgery without restrictions, solidifying its status as a sanctuary state for transgender rights. Additionally, the requirement to publish legal name changes in newspapers was repealed, prioritizing privacy and safety for transgender individuals. These policies reflect New Mexico’s unwavering commitment to fostering diversity and inclusivity across all aspects of life including providing gender-neutral bathrooms.
Why did FYI decide to make a parade?
In New Mexico, our community stands firmly behind the LGBTQ+ cause, with an impressive 75% of our residents showing their unwavering support. This collective support has driven a fantastic collaboration between FYI+, Southern New Mexico Pride, and PFLAG Las Cruces to turn our vibrant Pride spirit into a tangible celebration—a Pride Parade.
Over the years, we’ve witnessed the incredible impact of pre-Pride event marches. These marches have painted our streets with a beautiful spectrum of colors, filled the air with music, and brought people together in a spirit of unity. They’ve been a testament to the strength of our Pride community.
To make this support official and bring our collective Pride to the next level, we decided to organize a full-fledged parade. It was a massive undertaking, but the response from our community has been nothing short of amazing. The level of participation and volunteerism far exceeded our wildest expectations, and it’s a clear reflection of the unwavering spirit of Pride that runs through our city and the borderland region.
What’s even more heartwarming is that this support extended far beyond our organization. We had invaluable help from various collaborators. We’d like to give a big shout-out to Zed Serna, FYI+ Program Specialist with AmeriCorps & Outdoor Legacy Project, whose collaboration with the pride committee was instrumental. And of course, kudos to Robert Williams at Southern New Mexico Pride and Ryan Steinmetz from PFLAG Las Cruces for their significant contributions in making the Pride Parade a reality. Together, we’re turning our shared Pride vision into a vibrant, colorful, and unforgettable reality.
Shout out to the FYI+ Team and Partners
We would like to extend our heartfelt recognition to the remarkable individuals at FYI+ who have devoted their time, energy, and passion to ensure the success of the Pride Parade. Their dedication is the driving force behind the vibrant and colorful celebration that brought our community together. These committed team members have poured their hearts into this event, working tirelessly to make it a reality.
Our incredible Communications and Media Team:
Jeanne Resendez, Director of Business & Community Engagement
Raquel Madrigal, Communications and Media Coordinator
Andrue Garcia, Communications and Media Specialist
Deandra Rodriguez, ICS Community Coordinator
Javier Guerrero, ICS Community Coordinator
Zed Serna, Program Specialist (AmeriCorps)
Daniel Estorga, FYI+ Intern
Katie Larimer, FYI+ Intern
Cecilia Mendez, FYI+ Intern
Ahmed Mohammad, FYI+ Intern
Tracey Spencer FYI+ Nutrition Program
Parade Award Winners
Unity in Diversity: Deming Pride
Celebrating the beauty of diversity, the “Unity in Diversity Award” recognizes the float that best represents the many colors, cultures, and identities within the LGBTQ+ community.
Future Forward: NMSU LGBTQ Programs
The “Future Forward Float” award celebrates the float that envisions a brighter tomorrow. This float paints a picture of progress, acceptance, and love, inspiring hope and encouraging everyone to keep moving toward a more inclusive and equitable future.
Proudly Intersectional: Femme Frontera
The “Proudly Intersectional” award recognizes the float that excels in embracing the intersections of various identities within the LGBTQ+ community. This float celebrates the beauty that comes from acknowledging and supporting everyone’s unique experiences.
Drama Momma: NMCO Studio
This MOMMA is the embodiment of attitude, sass, and unapologetic fierceness. But don’t mistake their flair for mere showmanship. “The DRAMA MOMMA” is a true empowerment icon, a beacon of love and acceptance in the community. This theme is meant to be interpreted through a participant’s own ideas.
Spookiest Vibes: Cross Road City Derby
The “Spookiest Vibes” award goes to the entry that perfectly captures eerie and mysterious atmospheres and recognizes the spooky month of October.
Mike Cook, Reporter with Las Cruces Bulletin
Lindsey Davis, Coaching Manager with CYFD
Michaela Kelley, Member with LC Green Chamber of Commerce
Parade Court Members:
Grand Marshal: Kat Sanchez (she/her)
Grand Marshal, justice rights advocate, reproductive justice policy influencer, podcast co-host, and proud parent.
Legacy: Robert Williams (he/him)
Head Chair of Southern New Mexico Pride for 7 years
Trailblazer: Israel Chavez (he/him)
Trailblazer, Civil Rights Attorney, LGBTQ+ law firm owner, and advocate for minority communities and public transportation.
Pioneer: Dae Romero (they/them)
Pioneer, Assistant Professor at NMSU, specializing in identity/intersectionality in communication studies, and advocate for diversity and equality.
Ally: Shirley Steinmetz (she/her)
Parent, a long-time member of PFLAG Las Cruces, known for “free mom hugs.”
Youth: Alex Demers (he/him)
Member of Centennial High School’s GSA and the youngest-serving member of PFLAG Las Cruces.
Sponsors and Donors
Las Cruces City Council
Israel Chavez: Law office of Israel Chavez
Visit Las Cruces
AL:A – Architecture Firm Downtown
Given to the Float Award Winners
Rio Grande Theatre
The Madrake Botanica
As we celebrate the unique gender identities recognized in Native cultures, it’s a reminder that acceptance and celebration of diversity have deep historical roots in New Mexico. The repeal of outdated laws and the introduction of progressive legislation, from anti-sodomy statutes to gender-neutral bathrooms, reaffirm the state’s commitment to inclusion.
This year’s Pride Parade is not just an event; it’s a continuation of our journey. The spirit of unity, love, and acceptance that flows through the parade has grown stronger with each passing year. We celebrate our victories and acknowledge the challenges that lie ahead, knowing that our commitment to LGBTQ+ rights will persist.
We’re not just commemorating our progress; we’re also looking forward to the future. With hope in our hearts, we anticipate an even more colorful, vibrant, and inclusive event next year. The journey continues, and if you or your organization is interested in being part of the parade, whether it’s volunteering, being a sponsor/donor, or a participant, please let us know, and we will be delighted to include you in next year’s event!
- “Two-Spirit and Okiciyap” – Daily Kos (https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2013/3/28/1197463/-Two-Spirit-and-Okiciyap)
- “LGBT Navajos Discover Unexpected Champions: Their Grandparents” – National Public Radio. January 26, 2019.
- “Sodomy Laws of New Mexico” – GLAPN (http://www.glapn.org/sodomylaws/sensibilities/new_mexico.htm)
- “Hate Crimes Law Passage Important for New Mexico” – Anti-Defamation League (ADL). March 24, 2003. (https://www.adl.org/resources/news/hate-crimes-law-passage-important-new-mexico)
- “SB 288, Safe Schools for All Students Act” – New Mexico Legislature. (https://www.nmlegis.gov/Legislation/Legislation?chamber=S&legtype=B&legno=288&year=19)
- “New Mexico Becomes Fourth State to Allow Gender-Neutral Sex Designation on Birth Certificates” – New Mexico Department of Health. October 29, 2019.
- “HB 388” – New Mexico Legislature. (https://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/business/house-approves-gender-neutral-bathroom-bill/article_35d4f717-99df-5265-9709-7bc2b2180c4f.html)