Pride Week Wrap-up

Attendees blow bubbles at Pride Fest. Photo by Kyleigh Carter.

Attendees blow bubbles and “Chalk the Walk” at Pride Fest. Photo by Kyleigh Carter.

“This made my life!” freshman Creative Writing major Dee Rose exclaimed as she left the Quad, soaking wet from a water balloon fight and covered in paint from a previous round of paint twister. Like the other attendees of Pride Week’s Sunday event Pride Fest, she’d spent her afternoon dancing, blowing bubbles and taking advantage of the other fun activities COLORS had provided.

Jessie Deluxe play Pride Fest. Photo by Kyleigh Carter.

Jessie Deluxe play Pride Fest. Photo by Kyleigh Carter.

Despite a rocky start due to equipment malfunction and bad weather, Pride Week was a big success. From Thursday April 16 to Sunday April 19, the campus was buzzing with Pride related activity. Thursday included an open mic and series of skits that students enjoyed in the Forum; Friday brought in the drag club; Androgynicity for a small meet greet on the Quad, but the biggest event had to be Pride Fest. Though the event had to be moved from its planned Saturday date due to bad weather, Pride Fest still had a hefty turnout. With a live performance by Jessie Deluxe, who opened her act with joyous cry of, “Happy Pride week! We’re out loud and we’re proud!” attendees had a phenomenal time. “I had the best day,” said Haley Joy Porter who, despite being ill, came out to enjoy the festivities. She didn’t want to miss out on all the fun.

Sara Cunningham, officer of Androgynicity, was glad to have worked on Pride Week this year. Though it was a lot of work, it all paid off in the end. As she watched her friends slip and slide around during paint twister, she recalled the fun she’d had that day. “There [were] so many different things going on that you could take part in… there was drawing on the walkway… there was tie-dye, which a lot of people did.” Cunningham helped set up the HIV testing in the library, but was able to come out to enjoy the event after she was finished. “It’s fun to know you helped set up for stuff that could be important to other people…HIV testing is an important thing.”

Testing for HiV and Hepatitis C. Photo by Kyleigh Carter.

Testing for HIV and Hepatitis C. Photo by Kyleigh Carter.

The HIV and Hepatitis C testing in the Fogelson Library was also a big success. Both the Southwest Care Center and the Santa Fe Mountain Center offered private testing and resources for students. Both centers have been involved with COLORS in the past. SCC offered testing both during Pride Day in October and at last year’s Pride Week. The SFMC has worked with COLORS multiple times before, offering mountain retreats and sex education to its members. Kelly Mytinger is the HIV medical case manager at SCC and stresses the importance of knowing your status regardless of whether you think you are at risk for HIV or Hepatitis C. New Mexico has one of the highest rates of Hepatitis C  which is why SCC offers so much free testing and sex education. In fact, they have been hosting a “Men’s Night Out” every Monday in April at which men who come to the clinic can get free testing. While neither HIV nor Hepatitis C are isolated to the LGBT population, gay, bisexual and transgender men still contract STI’s at a “disproportionate percentage,” says SFMC HIV testing counselor, Chris Salas. This is why SFMC offers drug free retreats for gay, bisexual and transgender men to educate them about the risks of STI’s. COLORS vice president, Tom Grimes makes sure to get tested every six months, as both centers recommend. “You can get it from anywhere… It’s not just sex. You could shake someone’s hand who had an open sore [and get it]… you never know.”

Marion Courtyard during the Candlelight Vigil. Photo by Charlotte Renken.

Marion Courtyard during the Candlelight Vigil. Photo by Charlotte Renken.

Sunday night was another important event in the week. COLORS held a candlelight vigil to remember all those in the LGBT community who had died this year. While the event was a somber remembering, Grimes wanted to remind attendees of all the progress the United States is making in LGBT rights. “It’s getting so much better,” he said. He showed a map of all the states that 10 years ago had legalized gay marriage. There were four. Today he showed that 37 states and counting have changed their laws surrounding gay marriage.

After his presentation, attendees took time to speak about their own experience with adversity when it comes to their sexual orientation and gender identity. Tissues were passed frequently throughout the crowd. The group then all lit candles for someone they wanted to remember.

Pride Week is always a lot of fun from Drag Queens and Kings to Pride Fest to the “Believe the Rainbow. Taste the Rainbow” dance. After all of COLORS’ hard work, the weekend provided a much needed break from the stress of upcoming finals as well as a great venue to celebrate the strides this country has made in equality.