Albuquerque is a fascinating and dynamic city, sometimes overlooked by travelers. Similarly, the city is under the radar as a queer destination. But the city and region are very queer-friendly, and there are many reasons why LGBTQ travelers should consider New Mexico’s largest city for their next trip.
According to Mauro Walden-Montoya, President of the Albuquerque LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce, the city has been used to diversity since its founding, way back in 1706.
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“With the Native, Spanish and other cultures mixing for so many years, LGBTQ folks have been naturally accepted. It is easy to be LGBTQ in Albuquerque and we are very welcoming to residents and visitors alike,” he said. “New Mexico was the 17th state to legalize same-sex marriage, and Albuquerque welcomed thousands of LGBTQ couples from other states like Texas, Arizona, Colorado and as far away as Virginia who came to get married here.”
Walden-Montoya noted that one hotel welcomed a same-sex male couple from Dallas, who flew in on a Sunday evening to get married. They planned to have the ceremony on Monday and then leave that evening.
“The hotel manager sent them out sightseeing before the minister arrived. When they came back for their wedding, she had gotten them a cake (from an LGBTQ-friendly bakery) and decorated the lobby for their wedding. She and a staff member were their witnesses,” he said.
“They were overwhelmed by the friendliness shown towards them as a gay couple everywhere they went. Albuquerque is a very comfortable place for LGBTQ people—we can walk around holding hands, when we introduce our partners or say we just got married, the reaction is ‘Congratulations!'”
Additionally, Walden-Montoya said that there is so much to do for couples in the city: take a couple’s balloon ride, watch the sunset while riding the Sandia Peak Tramway, eat at a romantic, intimate restaurant, hike to a hot spring, explore ancient Native American pueblos, or visit the ABQ BioPark.
“We have had sexual orientation and transgender protections since 1993 in the city and since 2003 for the state. Albuquerque is an amazing destination for LGBTQ folks with cuisine, outdoor adventures, nightlife, a great community and one of the longest-running Prides in the country (since 1976),” he said.
What’s more, the city supports diverse organizations such as the LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce, the Rainbow Roadrunners Car Club, the Transgender Resource Center, ABQ Pride and gay sporting event associations. The city’s LGBTQ film festival, Way Out West, is in its 17th year.
Albuquerque has hosted the Lambda Car Club Grand Invitational, the Gay Pilots Association annual meeting and in 2020 is hosting the yearly conference of the Western Business Alliance (the association of western U.S. LGBTQ chambers of commerce).
“Albuquerque is romantic, affordable, fun, welcoming, and comfortable for LGBTQ folks—and the whole city will say “Bien venidos” to our LGBTQ visitors,” said Walden-Montoya.
Visit Albuquerque has a whole “LGBT friendly” section on its website. According to Brenna Moore, PR & Communications Manager, Visit Albuquerque, that section has been in existence since before any of the current members of the marketing team started working at the bureau.
“We envision that it was a natural outgrowth of the diverse Albuquerque community and the welcoming nature of our culture,” she said. “It became even more important when same-sex marriage was legalized in New Mexico in 2013—ahead of the Supreme Court ruling in 2015. We wanted to have a resource that specifically spoke to LGBTQ travelers about the experiences that awaited them in our destination.”
Moore said that the city does collaborate with the Albuquerque LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce on the LGBTQ section of the visitors’ guide. Additionally, there is a print version offered—and Visit Albuquerque prints 300,000 copies of the guide each year. While the organization doesn’t specifically target its print advertising to the LGBTQ traveler, Moore’s team has advertised to queer audiences via Facebook.
“Albuquerque is a city that continues to celebrate and embrace diversity and works to be an inclusive place to visit and to live,” she said. “LGBTQ travelers will be welcomed to ABQ with open arms!”