Give or take. PJ Sedillo, organizer of Albuquerque's annual Pridefest, says 9,000 tickets were sold. He estimates at least 3,000 watched the rainbow snake that made its way up a major Albuquerque artery on Saturday, June 14. Add to that number countless volunteers, people working booths and vendors at the Fairgrounds.
Since 1976, when about 30 paraders trekked up Central's sidewalk to the soundtrack of jeers from the city's homophobes, the Pride Parade has grown to a full-blown party with probably less than 10 haters on the sidelines. The largest LGBT event in New Mexico, it’s among the three most attended parades in the state. Even Mayor Martin Chavez issued an executive order proclaiming June 8 through 14 Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Week.
From the deck of the Alibi's float on Albuquerque Pride’s 30th anniversary in 2006, I spotted Gov. Bill Richardson and Chavez shaking hands with and waving to attendees. I didn’t see them mentioned or photographed in any news outlet in the city.
It astounds me every year that in a city where the daily newspaper can rustle up article after promotional Balloon Fiesta article, slightly more than no coverage is given in the Albuquerque Journal to one of the most significant gatherings that happens all year.
This year, a story appeared in the metro section next to another titled "Police SUV Hits, Flips Stroller." Former APD spokesperson Trish Hoffman backed into a baby stroller during the Gay Pride Parade, though happily, she didn't injure the 2-year-old girl who was riding in it. "For them to focus more on the negative than the positive ... ” Sedillo says, his voice trailing off in frustration. "I think they focused more on the Trish Hoffman incident than on the event itself. I don't think they take our event seriously."
Sedillo, who's been working on the parade for 18 years running, says he's never felt Pride coverage was decent. Still, he doesn't know if he would call it homophobia, exactly. "I just don't think they've realized how big it is. For us not to get coverage on the front page, I think it's a slap in the face to the gay community."
Every year Pride grows. People travel from all over New Mexico to participate in the parade or to spectate. And every year, local media miss the boat. How many people will have to attend Pride before it's fully explored on our news channels and in our morning daily? 13,000? 50,000? 100,000?
You can't tell me there's not a strong hook there amid all the love, politics, religion and civil rights. Oh, well. I guess the Alibi will continue to clean house on these reports without competition from the city's other major media outlets. You guys keep the stroller story. We'll take the rest.