Alexis Ortega is a proud product of Palm Springs and the surrounding Coachella Valley.
Her passion and dedication to LGBTQ issues infuses everything she does. And, at age 31, Lex, as her loved ones know her, is just getting started.
The eldest of three children, Alexis is fiercely independent and maybe just a little bit headstrong. A doer, she often winds up with the heavy lifting. “I would rather hold a burden than give it to others,” she says.
As a result, she’s constantly putting other people ahead of herself, so valuing her relationships with colleagues, partners, fellow advocates and allies.
Since her days at Stanford University, Lex often refers to the LGBTQ community as her home.
“I straddled multiple worlds and communities and often don’t fully fit into any one space,” she says. And it may have always been that way for Lex.
Her biological family is “a mixed-generation household.” Her father was born and raised in Mexico (he migrated to the U.S. in his late teens) and her mother is a third-generation Mexican-American raised in the Pacific Northwest.
But once she discovered her queer identity, she felt immediately at ease, and has never really looked back, working in LGBTQ spaces and organizations for nearly nine years, and loving every minute of it.
Today, her work with the LGBT Community Center of the Desert, in the Coachella Valley, has sparked a new fire in her soul.
Working with queer and trans young people of color, specifically Latinx communities, fills her heart. The creation and growth of Eastern Coachella Valley Pride is like bearing witness to the birth of a new community.
She is proud of the leadership the young people of Coachella and Thermal have shown.
When she’s not working at her day job, Lex is volunteering for all things queer.
“It’s ridiculously hard for me to say no,” she says.
Right now, you can find Lex volunteering for the City of Palm Springs, as they expand into district elections, and serving on the Strategic Coordinating Council of Alianza, an alliance of residents, nonprofits, and government, working for a thriving Coachella Valley that strives to center the voices of the people who live in the Eastern Coachella Valley, and bridge connections to cities like Palm Springs.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I’ve been out since I was 17 – my senior year of high school. I think the hardest person for me to tell was my dad. I was scared I would be letting him down, but thankfully that wasn’t the case at all. He and my mom are two of my biggest supporters.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
Oooo tough. I’m enamored by the queer folks of color who’ve paved the way. The unnamed and the revered. If I had to name a name, right now I would have to say Audre Lorde.
What’s the Desert’s best nightspot, past or present?
I will always and forever love Toucans. It’s where I danced the night away with friends when I barely turned 21, and where I met my partner Desiree, back in 2012. Nowadays, when I want something more Chill, I’ll go to Chill Bar or Dead or Alive.
Describe your dream wedding.
I’m not a marriage-type of gal. With that said, I think any reason to celebrate love between partners that includes family, friends, and loved ones, with good music, and great food is a great time.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
I think most issues are LGBTQ issues, because we are as diverse as the rest of society. But specifically, racial equity, particularly with regards to criminal justice and immigration.
What historical outcome would you change?
The rise of colonialism and the systematic decimation of indigenous peoples and culture.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
Anything related to the internet! The early days of Napster, Myspace, and the evolution to what we have today.
On what do you insist?
Coalition building and humility. Something I try to live by every day.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
A picture of my Halloween costume as Miguel from Coco.
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
Live, learn, grow.
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
I would wish I could make everyone queer ha ha! Just kidding. But if that really happened, I would be a part of the movement that espouses the beauty in our differences. No one should change their sexuality or identity, it’s society that should change its prejudice against difference.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
I’m honestly not sure what I believe beyond the here and now. I look forward to discovering and uncovering my thoughts about that as I age.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Get rid of the ego. Share power, build meaningful partnerships, and mentor queer and trans folks of color.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
Well I might just try it to prove to myself I can do it! But I’d like to do think I would do it for humanity and justice.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
That we’re sinners. Enough with that nonsense.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
Oh I suck at picking favorites, unless the question is “what is your favorite number?” I guess I just like too many things! First one that came to mind is “Carol,” and I was in awe of “Moonlight.”
What’s the most overrated social custom?
The idea that parents always know best. Sometimes parents and caregivers don’t always. And that’s OK. We need to own our faults and mistakes better, as examples for the younger generation.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
I don’t know that I covet any trophy or prize for myself right now. I wish there were more opportunities for queer and trans folks of color to be celebrated and uplifted for their work.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
I wish I would’ve sought out mentors earlier and relished my youth a little more. I wish I would’ve learned to judge people less.
Why Coachella Valley?
It’s my forever home, and I didn’t appreciate it when I was younger. The mountains are the most gorgeous and heartwarming sight for me. Plus the weather is pretty freaking incredible 8 months out of the year. I’m officially ruined for colder weather climates.