This Is Albuquerque: Equality New Mexico

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Equality New Mexico
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What is your business philosophy?

At Equality New Mexico (EQNM), we envision a world in which oppression is obsolete and all dimensions of human identity are honored.

We believe that every lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) New Mexican is a vital community member in our Land of Enchantment, that we are more than just our LGBTQ identity, and that the health and wellbeing of LGBTQ New Mexicans is crucial to creating a stronger, more balanced world. This belief compels us to challenge structural and individual barriers that limit our self-determination and ability to thrive.

In and through our work, we strive to be a trusted partner, and to uplift the voices and build the leadership of our community in creating a reality of equity, full access and sustainable wellness for LGBTQ New Mexicans.

What is your or your company’s greatest asset?

EQNM’s greatest asset is the community that drives and supports us in everything we do. This includes our hardworking Board of Directors, our tireless staff and our beautiful LGBTQ and allied communities that invest their money, confidence and energy in this organization and our work.

What’s your favorite saying or quotation?

Audre Lorde—a radical Black feminist, lesbian, writer, and civil rights activist—said: "There is no such thing as a single issue struggle because we do not live single issue lives."

This quote calls attention to the fact that we, as human beings, do not inhabit a single identity; thus, we must address oppression, privilege, access, equity and justice from the whole person perspective. For instance, while I identify as a lesbian, I am also a woman making 70 cents to every dollar a man makes, I am an Iraq War veteran, I am a survivor of religious trauma, and I am a person living with PTSD, to name a few other challenging identities that I inhabit. However, I am also white, I am able-bodied, I am a documented U.S. citizen, I come from an economically advantaged family in which I had access to higher education, and I am cisgender (meaning, my sex assigned at birth is aligned to the gender with which I identify)—identities which come with significant inherent privilege in every single aspect of my life, our culture, and our society.

In other words, life looks much different and is inherently more privileged for me than for a transgender, undocumented and disabled woman of color who is homeless. And both of us are a part of the LGBTQ community.

What significant changes have you implemented recently?

The concept of "intersectionality," a term coined by UCLA and Columbia law professor, Kimberlé Crenshaw, is what is described in Audre Lorde’s quote above. This concept plays out significantly in the work we do at EQNM, and is why we are intentionally uplifting and integrating a "liberation" frame into our structure and work.

A "civil rights" frame—which has been the core of the movement for LGBTQ equality—includes important policy milestones like marriage equality, nondiscrimination protections, anti-bullying statutes, conversion therapy bans and more—all work that is important and in which we will continue to engage because we absolutely need the legal basis from which our civil rights can be protected.

A liberation frame, on the other hand, recognizes that LGBTQ people need more than marriage, more than anti-bullying policies, in order to survive and thrive. In New Mexico, at least 60% of our population is people of color; thus, we must address the racism that LGBTQ people of color experience every single day and in every single institution and structure with which they engage. The extreme poverty in New Mexico extends to all communities, including LGBTQ people; thus, we advocate for a livable wage and measures that support economic equity. New Mexico is home to over 70,000 immigrants, many of whom are LGBTQ; thus, we have built capacity in Southern New Mexico to work on issues like racial profiling by Customs and Border Patrol.

This shift in how we approach and develop our work has opened up countless opportunities for organizing across other issues and movements like #BlackLivesMatter, reproductive rights and justice, economic justice, worker rights, immigrant rights and disability justice, to name a few. Simply stated: We are stronger together!

What is your company’s greatest challenge?

Our greatest challenges are apathy and ego. Creating equity and achieving justice requires a willingness and ability of individuals to examine their implicit and explicit biases, their privilege, their internalized oppressions, and their external behaviors, and how they perpetuate or mitigate injustice and inequity. And, we must be willing to accept responsibility for these things, and be held accountable to addressing them. This is the work of “changing hearts and minds,” and is much harder than passing a policy or regulation.

Anything else you would like to add?

EQNM exists on the shoulders of giants, and among some of the most fierce social justice organizing and movement building in the country. We are here because of the leaders who came long before me, and because of the power and partnership of the community in which and for which we work with all our hearts. It is a privilege to work for EQNM, with organizations like Transgender Resource Center, Young Women United, and Somos Un Pueblo Unido, and on behalf of LGBTQ New Mexicans across our great state.
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