Roger will be the first openly LGBTQ member of the New Mexico State House
Roger Montoya is an artist and community organizer. His creativity has informed his life’s work.
Roger’s roots run deep in rural Northern NM. Roger came out to his family when he was 16. In 1980, he began his career as a professional dancer in Los Angeles and then NYC. He returned to NM in 1990, continuing to dance, choreograph and produce, and began a career as a landscape painter, quickly becoming aware of the effects of historic trauma and cyclical poverty in NM.
Roger came to understand that “Art is Medicine,”, using art to move from trauma to trust. Roger came out publicly in 1994 as HIV+, establishing a nonprofit to provide support for rural New Mexicans living with HIV/AIDS. In 2002, he created an Arts in the Schools program bringing in local artists to 12 public elementary schools. In 2007, Roger met his life partner, Salvador Ruiz Esquivel, and together they created Moving Arts Española (MAE), a non-profit providing arts programming. He was recognized in 2019 as a Top 10 Hero by CNN Heroes.
While working for MAE, Roger co-founded a K-8 public charter school; spearheaded the creation of a homeless shelter; and brought community stakeholders together to address youth job training, substance abuse, domestic violence, and housing, and to establish a community health incubator. In response to COVID-19, he is coordinating 10 nonprofits to provide food and supplies to those most vulnerable in the region.