I was asked recently, "Why do we need Pride?" There are folx in our communities of Clovis and Portales who don't think queer people exist in Eastern New Mexico. Or, who don't understand why we need Pride here. Or, who just generally want to dehumanize and devalue the existence of those who are different from what they consider 'normal'. In the spirit of assuming the best in people and approaching this from a standpoint of teaching.
Imagine waking up each day and being afraid to just be yourself. At work, at the grocery store, in class, at a football game, in church. Imagine being asked to justify your basic existence as a human being. Imagine being called every slur under the sun and being told to leave your home because you're not welcome or wanted here in Clovis and Portales. Imagine all this - in 2023.
Eastern New Mexico needs Pride because LGBTQ+ people exist and representation matters. Yes, even here. Now more than ever, the Clovis and Portales communities should be focused on fostering a TRULY safe and welcoming environment for all. Our business and community leaders like to talk the talk of being open to businesses, young families and young professionals. But are we, really? Are we honestly working every day to cultivate an open and accepting environment for all? Or are these leaders only open and accepting to individuals and families who look like them and fit the mold of what they consider acceptable? The 2019 Gallup/Williams poll shows that 4.5% of New Mexicans age 18+ identify as LGBTQ+. 5% of New Mexico's workforce is LGBTQ+ (Williams 2020). When we put out the 'welcome' sign for business professionals and families, is it only for the 'other' 95% of the workforce, or is it for all?
Data from the 2021 New Mexico Youth Risk and Resiliency Survey (YRRS) for grades 9-12 in Curry County indicates more than 20% of high schoolers in Clovis (Curry County) identify as LGBTQ+. That's one fifth of all teens in our county. The data for teens in Roosevelt county is 25% identifying as LGBTQ+. We have a responsibility to give our queer community a voice and a foundation in Eastern New Mexico. We're not going to just leave one quarter of our folx behind.
Eastern New Mexico Rising has held monthly LGBTQ+ social events for the last two months and more than 30 people attended each event. Individuals in the queer community in eastern New Mexico have expressed to us that they do not, and have not felt safe coming out and being themselves in our communities in the past. Yes, you heard that correctly. Your neighbors are living in fear of just being themselves. That stops now. Pride is our way of demonstrating to the community that there is truly a place for everyone here and that our hearts and our minds are open. Join us for Pride 2023: http://enmrising.org/pride
New Mexico LGBTQ+ Stats
NM High School Data by County: https://youthrisk.org/