Local activist Judy Palier will be remembered during the candlelight vigil at Orchard Park
FARMINGTON — Farmington Pride Week will begin with a potluck followed by a candlelight vigil Wednesday night.
The vigil, which will start at 7 p.m. in Orchard Park, will be an opportunity for the local LGBTQ community to remember and honor people who have died.
A slideshow of pictures displayed during the vigil will honor and remember Judith "Judy" Palier, the former president of Identity Inc., a non-profit that provides support to LGBTQ community members. Palier died about a week ago from congestive heart failure.
The vigil is part of the first day of Farmington's Pride Week. MP Schildmeyer, an Identity Inc. board member, said the nonprofit LGBTQ support center and the local LGBTQ community chose to have Pride Week in conjunction with National Coming Out Day.
Identity Inc. members Schildmeyer and Dale Leedy said Identity Inc. and the SafeZone program at the college are the lasting legacies that Paleir left behind. While teaching political science at San Juan College, Palier helped start the SafeZone program, which provides training for people who want to support for LGBTQ students. Two years ago, Palier helped found Identity Inc. She was instrumental in getting the Identity Inc. community center open in downtown Farmington.
"A lot of people say that Judy actually saved lives," said Danielle Sullivan, who teaches English at San Juan College.
Sullivan recalled when one of her students came out to her in an English paper. Sullivan went to Palier and San Juan College Out to find resources for her students.
In January 2011, Palier started SafeZone about seven years ago. The SafeZone program included training for people wanting to be resources for the LGBTQ students.
"It really changed the culture of the college," Sullivan said.
Eventually, San Juan College Out morphed from just being a college club into a community group that became part of Identity Inc.
While Palier was very active in the LGBTQ community locally, Sullivan said she cared about social justice throughout the world.
"She was a political dynamo who fought for social issues everywhere," Sullivan said.
As a political scientist, Palier focused on political systems and justice issues in Mexico and Central America, Sullivan recalled.
Prior to her death, Palier was living in a rehabilitation facility in Durango, Colorado. Sullivan said Palier rallied the patients to lobby for healthier foods just days before her death.
"She really inspired all of us to be better people," Sullivan said.
Prior to the vigil, there will be a potluck starting at 5 p.m. at Identity Inc. The potluck will be followed by stories about coming out to friends and family members.
"Judy (Palier) was a great story teller and strongly believed in the power of stories," Schildmeyer said.
Schildmeyer said many people within the LGBTQ community experience fear about coming out. Schildmeyer and Leedy encouraged people who are wanting to come out to find a support group.
"Always remember that you have a right to be you and to embrace yourself," Leedy said.
Other Pride Week events this week include:
- Happy Hour from 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday at No Worries, 1298 W. Navajo St., followed by a drag show from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m.
- "The Night Before Halloween" Pride dance from 7 p.m. to midnight Friday at The Courtyard by Marriott, 560 Scott Ave.
- The second annual Pride parade will start at 10 a.m. Saturday in downtown Farmington. It will be followed by the Pride in the Park celebration from 1 to 4 p.m. at Brookside Park.
For more information about Farmington's Pride Week, visit identity-inc.org.
Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.