Fight ensues over Pride design on community mural near Los Alamos
LOS ALAMOS, N.M. — Rainbows and messages of support painted on a rock, up in northern New Mexico, have been repeatedly covered in gray paint this PRIDE month – and now the White Rock is at the center of a pride debate in our state.
That rock, near Los Alamos, has been a rotating community mural. Anyone can paint basically anything on it – from birthday greetings to announcements, or just a mural. Usually, these messages stay up for at least 24 hours before getting painted over but the Friends of Los Alamos PRIDE say, whenever they paint messages of LGBTQ+ support and announcements for their pride festival, it quickly gets covered up.
“It was covered within 4 hours,” said, Kryene Sehorn, a member of the Friends of Los Alamos Pride Board. “They covered it with just gray paint, there wasn’t even a message, just completely dumped over.”
That was June 10th. The pride board went back out the next day and painted a new rainbow design.
“It was also dumped over with gray paint,” Sehorn said.
Before the board could repaint, an unknown community member added a new uplifting message, featuring a rainbow lightsaber and a quote from Star Wars.
“You can’t stop change any more than you can stop the sun from setting,” from Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace
However, even that message was quickly painted over.
“There has been a lot of back and forth, I think we are on iteration 4 or 5 right now,” Sehorn said.
Then over the weekend, another board member spotted a man painting over the rock with gray paint and confronted him.
“Anybody can paint the rock,” the man said without identifying himself.
“We are supporting the LGBTQ+ community in this town,” the board member replied. “How dare you try to block us from doing that, shame on you.”
“I’m not trying to block you I just don’t think that is an appropriate place for those messages,” the man replied.
The rock is an open canvas for anyone – and the board acknowledges that but they can’t help but feel that this is wrong.
“We just feel it is important, particularly for the youth in our community to see there is support and to show it, especially with the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill in Florida recently. Our theme for Pride this year is ‘just say gay’ and keep showing no matter how much they try to silence our organization and queer voices we aren’t going to let that happen,” Sehorn said.
Even though the rock is open to everyone, Sehorn says there have been instances where the cops have been called on them for “vandalizing” the rock by painting rainbows on it.
The Pride Board plans to repaint the rock Thursday, as they announced the Pride Fest happening in Los Alamos this weekend.