This year’s Pride 2023 celebration was the first of its kind in rural Eastern New Mexico, with events throughout Portales and Clovis the week of June 18-25.
Pride 2023 was organized and run by Eastern New Mexico Rising, a 501(c)4 nonprofit which describes itself as a non-partisan, progressive movement that empowers individuals and connects communities by promoting bodily autonomy, equality, diversity, human rights and civil liberties through dialogue, education, and advocacy.
Laura Wight is the co-founder and co-chair of ENM Rising and was joined in leading the Portales parade on Friday by ENM Rising steering committee members Krista Pietch and Victoria Robeldo. All three were decked out in Pride rainbow colors and wore pink vests. (Helpers wore pink vests all week to signal they were available for anyone with questions or in need of assistance).
Pride 2023 included several events throughout the week culminating in a Pride parade in Portales on Friday, and a larger parade in Clovis on Saturday.
Both parades had a good turnout, and the mood was festive and welcoming. A person marching in the Portales parade carried a sign for gay members of the military. When asked about his participation in the parade, he mentioned military Veterans he knew and that he thought it was important to show his support. “Every Veteran that served our country deserves respect,” he said, “and so I’m out here marching today.”
Once the Portales parade ended, Wight called it a success. “We’ve been really happy to see so much community-” here she was cut off as a line of cars drove by honking their horns and cheering out their windows in support.
Wight smiled, and continued, “As I was saying, we’ve been happy to be supported by the community, and we’re just getting started. As more people in eastern New Mexico find out about Pride Fest, we expect it will grow in attendance each year.”
Saturday’s parade was larger than the one in Portales, and onlookers lined the street to cheer on the marchers. One woman was attending with her wife, and as they watched the parade go by, she commented, “We were going to go to Texas for a Pride celebration, but then we heard Clovis was having one and got excited.” Her wife nodded as she continued, “It’s so nice to see Eastern New Mexico being so welcoming and supportive through this festival.”
The Saturday parade had a number of organizations from around the city involved, as well as retailers who wanted to show their support. Most everyone in the parade came decked out in rainbow colors, and different vehicles pumped out dance music as they passed.
Like any good parade, most of the vehicles participating had people throwing out candy for kids, and despite the heat all the children watching the parade managed to get a haul of candy.
Family Pridefest was held at Hillcrest park, and was well attended despite the extreme heat of the day that reached near 100 degrees.
There were aerial acrobats, several food trucks, and different businesses and organizations in the park, all there to show support and celebrate.
All the booths were family friendly, and some had activities and giveaways for people who stopped by.
Wight said that Family Pridefest was a success like the other events they had all week, and she was excited for the future.
“Look at all the people here in spite of the heat,” Wight said with a smile. “We’re really happy to see families out here enjoying themselves, and for everyone here to feel included and respected. Our Sunday ‘Brunch with the Queens’ tomorrow (Sunday) is sold out, and we expect to make everything bigger and better next year. It’s like I said at the parade, this is just the beginning.”
Wight also said sponsors really made everything possible. “Without our sponsors, this wouldn’t be possible. Having the support of different organizations really made the difference for us.”
One of Pattern Energy’s core values is supporting and investing in the communities we are a part of, and we were honored to be a sponsor of this year’s PrideFest.
Pride Fest 2023 saw thousands of Eastern New Mexicans participate in the various events all week. Chatter among the attendees was lively, effusive and the air felt festive as people participated in different events throughout the week.