A Los Alamos Pride Rock from 2019. Photo by Laura Canuelas Torres
BY LAURA CANUELAS TORRES
Editor’s note: This commentary was first published by the Los Alamos Reporter June 10, 2021. Laura has since moved away from Los Alamos but told the Reporter that still keeps her 2019 Los Alamos Pride rock on her desk.
The past couple of weeks I have been moved by the stories of love and support for the LBGTQIA community that have come out, as well as the beautiful narratives of Los Alamos LGBTQIA folks who are sharing their own Los Alamos Pride stories. I had thought about writing something, but multiple insecurities had stopped me: I’m fairly new in town, I’m not that great at sharing my feelings, and in some ways, I’m still figuring out where do I fit in the Queer rainbow. -What’s queerer than feeling you are not Queer enough? My friends would say- But due to recent events, I feel the need to share a story about a painted rock.
Not, not that one.
A small painted rock.
I visited Los Alamos Pride 2019 with my partner, I had moved away to complete my graduate studies and we had not seen each other in months. I had told my mother I was dating a woman a few months earlier and her response was less than ideal (she is cool with it now, parents need time to process too sometimes!). We arrived and were welcomed by a sea of friendly people. There were beautiful rainbow decorations, kids ran around using Pride flags as capes, on stage someone read queer poetry, an elderly lady wearing multicolor party beads gave free hugs. It was warm, beautiful, loud, and… overwhelming. As soon as I allowed myself to sit down the tears came down and I couldn’t stop them. My partner asked me what was wrong but It was becoming hard to speak. I told them I needed a few minutes alone and sat on a bench on the perimeter of the festival to wait it out. It was during this time that a little boy walked over to me. He didn’t say anything, just looked at me for a bit and then placed this rock next to me. I looked up to say thank you when I heard someone call him, the boy simply turned around and ran back to his two moms with that hurried stride that toddlers always seem to have. To this day I keep the small painted rock on my desk, a reminder of a time when I felt I was falling down, but the Los Alamos community was there to catch me. Today, as a member of FLAP, I hope to make Pride more welcoming for everyone.
I share this story to show that it’s ok to feel overwhelmed, confused, or intimidated by all the rainbows. Much like rocks, Pride comes out in different colors, shapes, and sizes. Each journey is different, only you get to choose what Pride means to you.
At the end of the day, Pride is not about the decorations, the parties, or the festivals. It’s about continuing the efforts of the hundreds of LGBTQIA+ activists that came before us by creating welcoming spaces, fighting for equal rights, and sending clear messages of respect and acceptance. And much like a big rock, it’s here to stay.