An Interview With Miss New Mexico Pride 2016
BY RENE THOMPSON
Annual Pride events celebrate the LGBTQ community, including generations who fought tirelessly for equal rights. New Mexico’s largest gay pride parade brings a procession of prismatic color and a spectrum of identity to Route 66 on Saturday, June 11. The reigning Miss New Mexico Pride, Lady Shug De La Cruz, will preside over the festivities.
ABQ Free Press spoke by phone with De La Cruz about growing up gay in rural New Mexico and the national transgender restroom debate.
De La Cruz grew up in Northern New Mexico, within the Navajo Nation, and she couldn’t wait to venture out into the larger world. She moved to Las Vegas, Nev., and that’s where she found her true calling as a fierce female impersonator.
“The best part about doing drag is being able to be creative. It’s just another way of expressing yourself,” De La Cruz said. “Some days, I want to be super glamorous, punk or club kid. I’m my own Barbie.”
De La Cruz returned to New Mexico to help her family and to contribute to her native community, especially gay Native Americans living on the res. Even via telephone, her excitement about this year’s parade is palpable.
“This is my first parade, and I’m really excited … because it’s my home state, and my mom is helping me with my outfit,” De La Cruz said. “My goal is to make headlines this year, so the outfit is going to be pretty creative.”
As for the national restroom debate, De La Cruz notes that the transgender community has always had to cope with backlash for asserting its gender identity.
“I have a bunch of trans brothers and sisters who I know struggle with that on a daily basis,” she said. “I’ve always seen the transgender community treated as if they’re on the back bumper-totem pole regarding how they’re perceived in the LGBTQ community.”
De La Cruz can attest to knowing members of the LGBTQ community who avoid using public restrooms altogether. That reality hinges on the fact that public restrooms are one of the most likely places to be attacked.
“I live in the Farmington area, and it’s still very conservative here,” she said. “I pass as female or get confused for female all the time, so it can be really hard for me to walk into a restroom without getting looks or feeling uncomfortable.”
“There were times in high school I avoided it altogether, and I would have issues where I would make myself just not go, or I would try to sneak in when nobody was around. Sometimes I would just go outside instead of dealing with all the negativity that came with it.”
In De La Cruz’s opinion, the importance of the entire LGBTQ community rallying around the transgender community can’t be overstated.
“There are more issues for transgenders than lesbians or gay males right now. I’m not trying to bash what my gay brothers and sisters go through at all. I’m just saying it needs to be equal among us. We should see equality within [our own community] as well,” she said.
Featured photo credit: Jeremy Meek