Every June, The University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center celebrates Pride Month to recognize the history, achievements and ongoing inequities faced by the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer communities (LGBTQ).
Pride Month, which commemorates the 1969 uprising at the Stonewall Inn in New York City and the transformational liberation movement it unleashed, is an opportunity for HSC students, staff and faculty to participate in events that inspire, educate, commemorate and celebrate the diverse LGBTQ community.
Throughout the month, the HSC and the UNMH LGBTQ Collaborative will be hosting a series of in-person gatherings and virtual presentations that explore historical and contemporary aspects of the struggle for equity and celebrate the many important contributions and achievements of LGBTQ communities and individuals.
“This is a great opportunity for our friends and allies to celebrate together,” he added.
The UNMH LGBTQ Collaborative, an employee resource group for LGBTQ staff, as well as a support group for LGBTQ patients and their families, was founded in 2011.
“The collaborative is made up of people all over the HSC. We have people like pharmacists, doctors, front-end staff, appointment schedulers and all types of people,” said Fabián Armijo, executive director of UNMH Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. “What we’ve done is march in the parade to show the community that UNMH is proud to support all of our queer employees, our patients and their families.”
To kick off Pride Month, HSC employees are encouraged to join the UNMH Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion for a free tasty paleta (popsicle) from local ice cream shop Pop Fizz on June 8.
“We’ll also give away some promo items to our staff – for people who want to have a little rainbow flair or a pronoun button,” Armijo said. “Those things are a way to send a message to our patients and their families that this is a safe space for queer people. We see them and we honor their identity.”
Other events will include a Zoom screening of the Latina lesbian documentary “The Whistle” on June 10; walking in the Albuquerque PrideFest Parade on June 11; and Drag Queen Trivia Night on June 23.
On June 15 at noon, the HSC Office for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion will host an event called Cancer Research & LGBTQ Communities, with speakers Miria Kano, PhD, and Nelson Sanchez, MD. The objective is to describe cancer-related disparities in LGBTQ communities and list available resources for health care providers. For more information, visit the HSC Pride events page.
Additionally, the Justice, Equity, and Inclusion Committee at the Health Sciences Library and Information Center has put together a special exhibit of LGBTQ resources. The display, which includes several print books and descriptions of selected e-book titles on LGBTQ+ topics related to health sciences, is located to the left upon entering the ground floor.
While Pride Month is important, Armijo said LGBTQ resources and support at the HSC and UNMH don’t begin and end in June.
The UNMH LGBTQ Collaborative conducts “Safe Zone” training several times throughout the year, he said. The four-hour training courses educate staff and clinicians on how to be an ally to the community.
“I think going to the hospital is scary for anybody, and it’s especially scary when you feel like you’re different and you don’t know how people are going to treat you because of how you identify,” Armijo said. “But work like this helps us make sure that when people come to us, no matter who they are or where they come from, they know they’re going to get good care and have advocates in the hospital.”
Additionally, on August 27 at 9:30 a.m., the UNMH LGBTQ Collaborative will host a queer community listening session at the UNM Domenici Center for Health Sciences Education. The session will offer a safe space for LGBTQ community members to talk about their experiences at UNM Hospital and with other health care providers. The feedback will be used to improve services and programming at UNMH. Email UNMHCE@salud.unm.edu for more information.
“Basically, it’ll be a safe space where people can tell us what was great about their care, what wasn’t so great, and offer some solutions as to what can make their care better and help them feel more welcome,” Armijo said.