United States of Queerty

United States of Queerty: New Mexico

We here at Queerty are big fans of the United States, the nation that bore us, Celebrity Jeopardy, the hamburger and that whole representative democracy thing. It’s a nation rich in natural resources, can-do attitude and homosexuals, and each week, we’re visiting a new state to find out just what makes it so uniquely fabulous.

New Mexico
Easy Enchantment

new_mexicoWhile New Mexico may be one of the last states to join the union, it has one of the longest histories. People have lived in the area since 9,200 BC. By 1050 BC, the Pueblo culture had built multi-story settlements that still dazzle visitors today. In the 1500s, Spanish conquistadors explored the state and, by force and settlement, the unique mole of cultures that make up modern New Mexico began simmering. Cowboys and Americans settled the area in the 1800s, and the 20th Century saw great waves of migrants pour in along “the mother road,” Route 66.

Today, the state continues to see influxes of new blood, this time from the Mexican border. For gays and lesbians, despite widespread poverty, New Mexico’s diversity has led to easygoing lives. New Mexico has its own version of ENDA and is generally tolerant of gay adoption.

The Fight For Your Rights

picture-124A domestic partnership bill failed to pass the Senate in February, despite growing support from the more conservative southern part of the state and the efforts of Gov. Bill Richardson.

The Los Cruces Sun-News reported:

“The bill has gotten snared in the Senate for the past couple of years, although the House has passed it previously.

It would have allowed gay or straight unmarried couples to register as domestic partners and have the same legal protections and benefits as married couples…

“If you’re mad, you should be mad,” Linda Siegle, a lobbyist for Equality New Mexico, told a dejected crowd outside the Capitol. “The people in this building said you are not equal, you are not worthy, you do not deserve the same rights as most of them have.”

Siegle said religious groups were influential in the bill’s defeat. The Roman Catholic Church, which previously was neutral on the issue, lobbied against it this year.

“I think what they’ve invited today is a lawsuit seeking marriage — absolute equal rights. … I’m sure there are folks that are ready to pursue that,” said Patti Bushee, a Santa Fe city councilor.”

Local Hotspot
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Albuquerque Social Club
4021 Central Ave NE
Albuquerque, New Mexico
505/ 255-0887

There’s no easy way to say this: Albuquerque’s gay nightlife scene has been decimated in recent years, with gay venues Pulse, Albuquerque Mining Company and Martini Grill all closing. Picking up the slack has been The Albuquerque Social Club, a private club that, despite its name, is open to all with a valid ID. Locals pay $10, out-of-towners pay $5. The club stays open til 2pm on weekends, with DJ’s, dancing and plenty of ‘Burque friendliness.

Model Citizen
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Steven K. Homer is a New Mexico native living in Albuquerque, where he’s a law professor at the University of New Mexico.

What’s the best part about living in New Mexico?

The weather, the geography, the food, a general culture of tolerance, the people. For me, it’s really about the geography and the land—the physical nature of it. The scale of it so different from the East Coast, the amount of space you have and the distance to the horizon. I love the East Coast, but I always feel a little claustrophobic there.

What do you think is the biggest problem facing gays and lesbians in New Mexico?

For New Mexico, it’s the size of the state and the relatively thin distribution of the population, and we’re a poverty state, so I think that makes it hard to do a lot of things: hard to raise money, hard to organize, hard to get people to participate in the community. I think we’re competing with Mississippi and Louisiana for poorest state in the country.

Describe your average New Mexico gay.

Probably a little bit of a homebody, definitely into a circle of friends, because there’s not a huge nightlife scene here. Probably out, for the most part; that probably varies in the smaller town, people are probably more closeted. Down-to-earth, kind of rural—that sort of thing.

If there’s one thing a gay visitor to New Mexico should do, what is it?

10,000 Waves in Santa Fe. It’s like a hot tub place, but that doesn’t really describe it. It’s pretty fabulous. You can get a massage there, they have communal hot tubs and private hot tubs and mixed gender hot tubs. I think some are clothing optional. It’s pretty fabulous. The facilities are fantastic.

What’s one misconception about New Mexico you’d like to clear up?

You mean, besides the misconception that we’re not part of the country in the first place? Because, that’s really the biggest misconception. I’ve gone to places and say, “I’m from New Mexico,” and I’ll have people say to me, “Wow, you speak English really well!” I had a bank account in Boston and I ran out of checks, so I called to order more checks and the guy’s like, “Oh, there’s going to be a delay,” and I’m like, “Oh shit, did I bounce a check?” and he said, “Well, when we send checks out of the country, it takes longer.”

Six down, forty-four to go. Each week until we’re done, Queerty will be traveling to a new state and meeting the gays. We love featuring our readers, so if you think you’re Model Citizen material, shoot us an email at [email protected]. We’d love to hear from you.