The rugged San Juan Mountains cover southwestern Colorado and northwestern New Mexico. They tower over the little towns sprinkled across the area that were established for mining, but now known for their tourism. In these mountains is the town of Durango. Home to the Fort Lewis College Skyhawks, Durango is nestled in La Plata County. Amidst the towering trees and rushing Animas River are the San Juan National Forest and Mesa Verde National Park. Durango is an outdoor lovers’ paradise, abundant in rafting, hiking, and skiing.
The area’s natural beauty and access to modernity are what enchant locals and visitors. For tourists, there are a plethora of things to do and see. If you find yourself in this corner of Colorado during their pride festivities, you are sure not to be disappointed. The Four Corners Alliance for Diversity’s mission is to serve the LGBTQ community. “From youth to seniors, the organization’s collaborative, grassroots efforts provide both support and advocacy to campaigns that strive to affect positive change,” their mission statement explains.
In areas that may be geographically segregated, the need for a place of community and comfort is pertinent. The center provides many resources and events year-round that give the area a unique sense of solidarity. Though the town is small, the events are quarterly and incorporate the natural scenery of the area. Whether it’s a drag show or a fundraiser for the Durango AIDS benefit, there are many ways to participate. Additionally, there are monthly OUT-ings, which promote LGBTQ involvement and congregation.
The largest and most popular event is the town’s Pride Week. This year, the Pride Festival will be June 21-24. The festivities begin Wednesday and continue through Sunday. In previous years, former stars from Ru Paul’s Drag Race have attended, including Kennedy Davenport and Latrice Royal. Durango’s unique event includes a Pride water parade, where participants raft the Ammes River, donning their rainbow garb and enjoying the outdoors.
Ryan Garcia, chair of the Four Corners Alliance for Diversity, said, “In an area so potentially isolated, we work to combat loneliness by working with resources, even though we are a small town. [The center] has connected with Planned Parenthood, The Rainbow Youth Center for LGBTQ children and adolescents, and the Western Colorado AIDS Project.”
The Western Colorado AIDS Project serves 22 counties to benefit those who are HIV positive and their families. WCAP provides their services at no cost, and they are guaranteed confidential. “We are trying to make connections with LGBTQ people to get the word out and to get their input and a community HIV testing day. We are able to get that done through our partnership; this is all in the works,” Garcia said.
Durango has Pride all year long, but especially this time of year. Their event not only brings in people that want to visit the mountains, it also honors the citizens that live in Durango.