Instead of Cancelling, Santa Fe Reinvents Pride 2020

Santa Fe Pride

As we look ahead to Santa Fe Pride events in the coming weeks and months, it’s great to have some positive (and highly unexpected) news to celebrate!

As you’ve no-doubt heard, on Monday, June 15th, the majority-conservative Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that the federal anti-bias law cannot exclude gay, lesbian and transgender workers. The court ruled that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act—prohibiting discrimination “because of” sex—also includes people confronting job bias based on gender identity/sexual orientation.

This is the biggest decision for the LGBTQ community since the court declared the right to marry in 2015. We’ll be writing more about the positive impact of this landmark decision in the coming weeks.

Santa Fe Pride

Highly anticipated events like the Santa Fe County Fair and Opera season have been cancelled, but with Santa Fe Pride this month, the show will go on – digitally at first followed by events growing throughout the summer leading up to a larger celebration planned for mid-September.

Following the celebrations for Stonewall 50 in 2019, 2020 was set up to be the year that marked the fiftieth anniversary of Pride celebrations around the United States. Gay meccas like New York and San Francisco had planned huge events to commemorate a half-century of Pride. Santa Fe was no exception.

Before COVID, plans for Pride 2020 were in-step with the 2019 celebrations that included popular mainstays like the Pride Parade, Tea Dance, White Party, Drag Show, and Pride Train to Lamy as well as various new events around town that celebrate the unique culture of Santa Fe and the vast diversity of its LGBTQ community.

The coronavirus had different plans.

Virtual Pride is Free!

Like everything else in 2020, June Pride in Santa Fe is going digital. Life in the age of Zoom meetings, Zoom cocktail gatherings and Zoom watch parties has proved that life can go on even though lived through a small screen. But Santa Fe Pride organizers have something planned for the city’s June Pride celebration that goes beyond the average virtual gathering.

After announcing the postponement of in-person Pride events to mid-September, the Human Rights Alliance, which organizes Santa Fe Pride, got busy coming up with 21st century solution to celebrate Pride (at least partially) in June safely.

And that solution is Virtual Pride.

Oona Bender Santa Fe Pride Parade
DJ Oona Bender

On Saturday, June 27, Santa Fe Pride will hold a four-hour virtual Tea Dance. The online event is set to kick off at noon with a set by Santa Fe’s own DJ Oona Bender. Helping Bender kick it up a notch will be singing drag sensation Bella Gigante. Headlining the live digital event will be world-renowned DJ Tracy Young, who made history last January as the first woman to win a Grammy Award in the best remixed recording for her edit of Madonna’s empowerment anthem “I Rise.”

Drag Queen Bella Gigante
Bella Gigante

“Virtual Pride is FREE!” says HRA President Kevin Bowen. “I have to coordinate a couple of things with Tracy’s promoter, but we will have log-in credentials shortly, which we’ll share on our website and social media the week of PRIDE.”

DJ Tracy Young
DJ Tracy Young

As social distancing restrictions slowly lift, Pride organizers are hoping to take Virtual Pride to real spaces. “We’re looking to have four or five bars around town doing listening parties,” Bowen says. “We’ll have something at Cowgirl, and perhaps El Rey and Dinner for Two.” He also anticipates community members holding small events in their gardens and on their patios. “We’ll be putting out cocktail, mocktail and appetizer recipes.”

Same Spirit, Different Plans

“Every Pride organizer in the world has a story of someone whose life was changed by coming to a Pride, a story of someone who for the first time felt love and a sense of community” says Kristine Garina, President of the European Pride Organizers Association in a statement released in April.

Like hundreds of cities around the globe, Pride organizers in Santa Fe are having to re-think celebrations this year.

However, unlike San Francisco and New York City where in-person events have been cancelled altogether for 2020, Santa Fe organizers have plans for small events throughout the summer as restrictions are eased, leading up to the rescheduled Pride Week in September.

“We may have a party at the Governor’s Mansion in a private room, but capacity would be limited to 50 people,” he says.

As previously announced, Santa Fe Pride live and in person will take place this year during the week of September 13 through 20. Working through challenges that include insurance issues and permitting, Bowen and his team are planning to kick-off festivities with a Tea Dance on Sunday the 13th.

Other events in the works are Drag Bingo on the 17th and a Pride Parade followed by Pride on the Plaza on the 19th.

Mark Banham Gay Real Estate Agent

More Events on the Way

Although Pride in Santa Fe took an unpredicted turn this year, one initiative launched as planned. In 2020, The Human Rights Alliance launched “The Shoulders We Stand On – Our Proud Heritage,” an interactive timeline of historical events that shaped LGBTQIA life in New Mexico.

October is LGBT History Month and HRA is planning a screening of Santa Fe resident and national gay activist Malcolm Lazin’s 2001 film Gay Pioneers, which looked back at pre-Stonewall gay rights demonstration held in Philadelphia in 1965. The screening is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 3rd.

As Pride events in Albuquerque have been cancelled and left in limbo in the rest of the state, organizers in Santa Fe are committed to keeping celebrations alive. Bowen promises further announcements of reimagined events.

“Stay tuned,” he says.


As we celebrate Pride this month, it is more important than ever to support the LGBTQ+ youth and allies who need safety and security.

The youth at Casa Q inspire us to be bold, to be brave, and to be PROUD. In celebration of them, please consider making a donation to Casa Q todayYour gift will ensure Casa Q can offer homeless LGBTQ+ youth a safe home and a bright future.

Casa Q will honor your donation by writing your name (or the name of the person you are making the donation in honor of) on an LGBTQ+ flag to be on display at the Casa Q house. This wall of donors will serve as a visual representation of how community support can transform lives.

Thank you for believing in their mission!