Weekly Wire
Weekly Alibi Supportive Community Overshadows Hate Crime

By Michael Henningsen

JUNE 29, 1998:  Much has changed for gays and lesbians since the Stonewall Riots in New York's Greenwich Village this week back in 1969. Or has it? In recent weeks, Albuquerque's gay and lesbian community, and therefore (like it or not) our community as a whole, has experienced the same sorts of hate crimes that resulted in the now infamous uprising nearly 30 years ago. Whether such crimes are the highly publicized type, such as the two women in the Heights whose cars were vandalized, or the more subtle variety--ranging from slurs to threatening notes left by cowards at the storefronts of local businesses--they are all crimes against diversity and, in a very real sense, against all of humanity. It's all been said before (I wonder when it will ever have credence), but it really is frightening that the ignorance and intolerance from which such actions stem is alive and well in so-called progressive communities like Albuquerque.

Despite such backwoods narrow mindedness, however, thousands of Albuquerqueans from all walks of life and lifestyles witnessed a shining example of courage and sense of community two Saturdays ago when the Pride Parade marched proudly up Central Avenue from Richmond to the Fairgrounds. More than 30 floats constructed by a diverse collection of local businesses, from Pulse to Intel and Honeywell (Weekly Alibi's float took first prize in the "Best by Business" category, incidentally), tooled up the city's main artery, joined by literally hundreds of people on foot, skates and a variety of other modes of transport. Pride Parade '98 enjoyed one of the largest turnouts in its 22-year history in Albuquerque. But it wasn't just the turnout that was remarkable. Even in the face of our shameful wave of hate crime, the solidarity among the parade's participants and onlookers--gay, lesbian and a surprising number of otherwise--made one thing resoundingly clear: A few bad (read: pathetic, stupid) apples in this case, do not ruin the bushel. Quite the contrary, in fact.

The most refreshing element of the Pride Parade was certainly the widespread support from those members of the community who are neither gay nor lesbian; the ultimate goal, of course, being that one day what is so vital to the Pride ethos at present just won't matter when enough people become mature and humane enough to understand that it's really not a question of tolerance at all. Tolerance means sacrificing one's moral stance on a specific matter so as to harmonize their existence with others. True harmonious living occurs spontaneously, without effort in those willing to look beyond preconception and find their own true selves. And all that takes is willingness to find out what it means to be human. It isn't so hard, really. And the Pride Parade, if nothing else, stands as an encouraging sign of better times to come for all of us.


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