Here’s something that’s cause for the LGBTQ community to celebrate. According to data released by the Nation Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, LGBTQ-owned businesses contribute over $1.7 trillion to the U.S. economy. This fun fact will surely be toasted at one of the many events scheduled for this year’s expanded Pride celebrations currently being planned by Santa Fe Human Rights Alliance.
But wait until June?
Every month, members of Northern New Mexico’s LGBTQ business community gather to meet, socialize, and expand their personal and professional network. It’s all part of PRIDE After 5, a monthly event organized by New Mexico OUT Business Alliance (NMOBA) in partnership with Santa Fe Human Rights Alliance (HRA). And while the business of these events is to foster bonds within the region’s LGBTQ business community, HRA president Kevin Bowen asserts that attendees don’t have to own a business to participate. People who have gone to past PRIDE After 5 events are as diverse as the community itself and run the gamut from financial planners to chefs, insurance agents to ski instructors.
“Freelancers, independent contractors, and folks who just want to ‘gay network’ are welcome,” Bowen says. “Mostly, we’re just people getting together and talking, though we will announce what’s going on for Pride.”
In the spirit of expanding networks, each PRIDE After 5 event is held in a different venue. February’s event will be held at CHOMP Food Hall (505 Cerrillos Road, Santa Fe). As with previous events, the crowd will buy their own drinks and appetizers will be provided by the organizers. The event, held on February 17 will feature brief remarks by Bowen and NMOBA Executive Director pamm meyers before turning the floor over to Equality New Mexico’s executive director Marshall Martinez, who will discuss progress made at the state’s recent legislative session which ends that day.
“Marshall will stress the importance of everyone being involved and staying politically active, because if we’re not careful the progress we’ve made could go away,” Bowen says.
Future Pride After 5 events leading in the months leading up to June’s Pride celebration are slated to take place on:
- March 17 at Hervé Wine Bar (139 W San Francisco St)
- April 14 at La Reina at the el Rey (1862 Cerrillos)
- May (day TBD) at Optunia (1607 Alcadesa St)
A Zoom Webinar titled ‘Employee Retention During The Great Resignation’ (www.nmoba.org) is scheduled for March 2.
A PERFECT MATCH
The pairing of HRA and NMOBA to partner on PRIDE After 5 events was a match that not only complemented both organization’s mission statements but also cemented a friendship in the process.
“I reached out to Kevin about a year and a half ago when I heard he had taken over the Santa Fe Pride event,” meyers recalls. “I invited Kevin to join the New Mexico Round Table. Then when he was thinking of starting a monthly event, he reached out to me to see if we wanted to partner with HRA. It was perfect timing and has been a successful endeavor.”
“Plus, we became fast friends and allies,” she adds.
Although the spirit of PRIDE After 5 events is social, their purpose sits squarely with the core values of NMOBA, which is to build upon, promote, and invest in the diverse LGBTQ business and professional community throughout New Mexico. Upcoming events planned by the group include a webinar on March 3 that will focus on issues surrounding employee retention during the Great Resignation.
In addition to special events, the group provides diversity training for ERG’s and other entities. “We also have a B2B Mentorship program for LGBTQ and allied startups and business owners. And we’re adding a member orientation event each month that will update members on our website capabilities, introduce new members, and allow for networking opportunities,” meyers says.
“We also run the New Mexico Round Table which is a group of 30+ LGBTQ organizations across the state of NM that meets quarterly on the first Wednesday, the next one being 4/6/ 22 to discuss what is going on in their communities,” meyers adds.
AFTER AFTER 5
There is a modern proverb that captures the ethos of Pride After 5 and other NMOBA programs.
If you’re not at the table, you may be on the menu
“I would love for PRIDE After 5 to continue to gain momentum as well as members for both HRA and NMOBA,” meyers says, adding a concern that the mainstreaming of LGBTQ culture may signal that we’re in danger of losing our voice.
“Our community has become complacent with acceptance and that is a dangerous place to be,” meyers says.
“Gay Bars or Queer bars are fading away; Queer safe spaces are rare to find. Many will tell you that there used to be a much larger more vibrant queer community here in Albuquerque and Santa Fe. We want to bring that back and NMOBA wants to be the face of LGBTQ Travel to-in-and around New Mexico.”