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Film/Television Editor, Copy Editor Devin D. O'Leary served as film/television editor at Weekly Alibi for 28 years. He wrote and produced four feature films here in New Mexico and has been the booker/host of Midnight Movie Madness screenings at Guild Cinema for 13 years.

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Pride can certainly be a personal thing. But when it comes to Pride Month, the emphasis is almost always on community. The important point being, of course, that members of the LGBTQIA+ community are not alone in either their struggles or their celebrations. Wherever they are, they are part of a community. And they are not just connected to other individual members of the gay community. They are connected to businesses, charity organizations, venues and events in their neighborhood, their city, their state. These places are frequently LGBTQIA-owned or LGBTQIA-friendly. And it is important to take note of these community-based friends, allies and resources.

So at the tail end of Pride Month, we turned to our readers at The Paper. to let us know who and what are the best representatives of Albuquerque’s Pride. Thanks to all of you out there for casting your online vote in Albuquerque’s Best: Pride Edition! Did we leave anything out? Be sure to let us know what categories you’d like to see voted on next year!

Best Advocacy

Equality New Mexico

“We envision a world in which oppression is obsolete and all aspects of identity are honored.” Those are the words of Albuquerque’s top LGBTQ advocacy and civil rights organization. Since 2015 the nonprofit has lobbied officials and leaders at state and local levels for policy changes that improve the lives of LGBTQ New Mexicans. EQNM Foundation and partners have also been leading a three-year initiative to help make New Mexico’s public schools safer and more beneficial for all students—particularly for those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and gender nonconforming—through the Safe Schools Initiative. And they still know how to have fun. On July 2 EQNM is hosting “A Queer and Trans Comeback Event,” celebrating “the resilience of the LGBTQ movement in New Mexico” at the newly reopened Albuquerque Social Club (4021 Central Ave. NE). For tickets got to bit.ly/EQNMResilience21.

Best Education

SAGE Albuquerque

SAGE Albuquerque is a primary provider of support, social connections and educational programs to enhance the lives of all older LGBT individuals in the greater Albuquerque area and beyond. SAGE hosts social gathering, educational opportunities and support groups for “LGBT elders, seniors, older folks and gray hairs.” They also offer cultural competency training for senior service providers. Their goal is to “counter isolation, fear and loneliness by creating a caring community of LGBT elders who will look out for each other and share some laughs.” With COVID restrictions being particularly hard on seniors, this organization’s work is more important now than ever. Throughout 2020 the group kept members in touch with biweekly online meetings. For Pride Month SAGE organized a look at the history of queer politics in N.M. over the past several decades with longtime lobbyist for equality Linda Siegle.

Best Food & Beverage

The Range Café

This LGBT-owned Albuquerque/Bernalillo favorite has been around since 1992. Meatloaf, green chile mac & cheese, smashed burgers, blue corn enchiladas and a killer green chile chicken stew (not to mention some amazing bakery items) make this a must-stop when craving New Mexican cuisine. Although the location on Menaul closed shop at the height of last year’s COVID outbreak, that still leaves six locations to choose from. It’s the perfect spot to fill up at brunch and still keep it local.

Best Retail

Thrift-A-Lot

The Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico opened this plus-sized thrift store three years ago. Despite keeping its doors closed for much of 2020, the place has become Albuquerque’s go-to thrift store—whether you’re buying or donating. TGRNM is heavily invested in New Mexico’s transgender, gender nonconforming and nonbinary communities, and that’s reflected in Thrift-A-Lot’s diverse staff—part of the organization’s commitment to job training and job placement. For community members in need, Thrift-A-Lot also supports a “drop-in closet” and “household needs” program. Plus, it’s a fantastic place to spend the afternoon digging for books, furniture, clothing and household items. Revenue from the store supports general operating expenses for the center. So go ahead and pick up another CD. It’s for a good cause.

Best Health & Wellness

Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains

Planned Parenthood maintains two clinics in Albuquerque, one in Santa Fe and one in Farmington. Birth control, HIV services, STD testing, pregnancy testing and women’s health care are just some of the crucial reproductive health services they offer, frequently at discounted rates for the economically disadvantaged. (Some 75 percent of Planned Parenthood’s clients are at or below the federal poverty level.) It’s no surprise that the local branch of this national nonprofit has garnered some loyal support from the LGBTQ community.

Best Youth Services

Casa Q

According to a study from Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, LGBTQ young people are 120 percent more likely to experience homelessness than non-LGBTQ youth. For the past five years, Casa Q has provided safe living for LGBTQIA+ youth and allies through housing, services and advocacy. Although a safe housing option for LGBTQ youth ages 14 to 17 is crucial, it would solve few long-term problems on its own. Casa Q views itself as “transitional living” and concentrates on behavioral health, education, resources and life skills such as cooking, transportation and anything that can help these kids gain their independence. Self-efficacy and self-determination are the watchwords for Casa Q and its residents.

Best Nightlife

Sidewinders Bar & Grill

While many hotspots catering to the gay and lesbian crowds have come and gone in Albuquerque over the years, Sidewinders has endured. Several years ago, owners/spouses Renato and Michael Estacio-Burdick transformed the venerable country and western-themed gay bar on East Central into a hopping cabaret-style venue. In the wake of the COVID shutdown, Sidewinders transitioned to a fabulous new space at 4200 Central Ave. SE (formerly occupied by Martini Grill). Now backed by a full kitchen with some killer Filipino food, “S4200” is home to the city’s most famous drag, burlesque and cabaret acts. Dinner and a show? What more could you ask for?

Best Lifestyle

Self Serve Sexuality Resource Center

Self Serve is more than just a modern-day twist on the old-school sex shop. In addition to all the usual toys and accessories, Self Serve offers classes teaching Albuquerque how to navigate its sexual expression, its kinks and its bedroom etiquette. The shop went online-only last year “to prioritize community and public safety” during the pandemic. After 15 months, the store reopens for in-person shopping the first week of July. “We just added new toys in every section and can’t wait for folks to come visit us,” says owner Matie Fricker. “We are proud to be queer owned and operated and hope to be a safe space for folks to explore their desires and sexualities as healthy and loved parts of our complex lives.” Amen to that.

Best Real Estate

Talia Freedman

Talia Freedman is a realtor who went from the crowded city streets of Manhattan to living on three acres in Tijeras, N.M., just outside of Albuquerque. She came to Albuquerque in 1996 to study at UNM and fell in love with the place. Now she helps others find a place of their own. “I’m so honored and thankful to be named Best Real Estate Agent by the LGBTQIA community,” says Freedman. “I’ve spent the last 15-plus years helping people in the Greater Albuquerque area reach their homeownership and investment goals. I look forward to many more years of serving the community and of supporting our community organizations.”

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