1. New Leadership
It hasn't necessarily been the LGBT community's best kept secret that Pride in the Desert was in trouble with accusations of mismanagement and lack of transparency a large issue the past few years. This year, Tucson's annual Pride festivities and parade are under a new board and name—Tucson Pride. A fresh group stepped up quickly to put on this year's Pride festivities and Pride on Parade.
2. The girls are back
At the helm of Pride in the Park on Saturday, Oct. 1 is Tempest Dujour and Lucina Holliday, aka Patrick Holt and Larry Moore. Holt told the Weekly that it's been a scramble to make sure Pride continued this year.
"This is an all new board—with one exception. We have been working the past two months to pull off a Pride event. None of us have ever done this before. It's not going to be perfect, but I am so proud of this group of people and what we've accomplished," Holt says.
Keep in mind Holt, er, Tempest is a star in our midst. Last year, Tempest was a part of the RuPaul's Drag Race show. The limelight has been good for the performer, who now gets invites all over the world to do her signature drag show that tells the history of the entertainment genre along with LGBT history, too.
This December, Holt celebrates five years with the Retro Game Show night at Club Congress. "I don't think there's ever been a show in Tucson that's run for five years," he says. "I'm still doing stuff in town. I never forget where I came from. That's important to me—my love and respect for Tucson."
3. Back to the park
Pride in the Park returns to, yep, Reid Park. Traditionally, Pride has been held at Reid Park. The event moved to the soccer field at Kino Stadium. With hardly any shade and issues surrounding leadership, less people were turning out. Holt says it was important to get back to Reid Park at this new juncture.
"Psychologically it's means a lot to our community right now," Holt says.
4. There's only one parade now
When issues surrounding Pride in the Desert grew, parts of the community broke away and began a second parade during Pride weekend—the Freedom Parade. It further divided an already fractured community, says Holt. This year there's only one parade on Friday, Sept. 30, from 7 to 8 p.m.
Joseph Howell, parade co-chair, says so there are about 25 entrants and room for more.
Howell says the scramble has been interesting, but also a good lesson in why allies are important to the LGBT community. Working with the city and Tucson Police Department to make the parade happen this year has been helpful.
"For other cities in Arizona that don't have straight allies offering support, it can be a struggle to put on Pride," he says. "For us, it's helped make sure Pride happens."
5. This is still your festival
Holt says while everyone on the current board is moving quickly to bring it all together, he's reminding the community, from the LGBT to allies, that this is the their festival. The festivities depend on the people to show up to make it a true celebration. Volunteers and vendors are still needed. Go to tucsonpride.org for more information.
6. Only $10
This could have been the year that Pride didn't happen, but it's not thanks to the efforts of some caring community folks. Admission to Pride at the Park remains $10, free entrance for volunteers. There's a free shuttle from El Con Mall if you don't want to worry over parking. Park at lot 9 on the northeast corner from Home Depot. Buy your tickets early, online at tucsonpride.org. You are also welcome to make an online donation.
7. Family fun, yes, family
Remember, Holt is the father of two spectacular kiddos and he knows plenty of other LGBT community members and allies who love Pride and want to be there with their kids. This year, there will be an inflatable obstacle course and face painting.
"At the Orlando vigil, I looked out at crowd and I saw not just gay people, but allies with their children and I met several families with trans kids and gay kids with straight parents. These are people we want to invite to help us celebrate," he says.
8. Expect to be entertained and more
Pride weekend kicks off Friday, Sept. 30 with Pride at the Rialto with stars from RuPaul's Drag Race: Pandora Boxx, Mariah Balenciago, Jasmine Master, Venus D'Lite and yes, Tempest DuJour. (Ritaltotheater.com) Expect a day of entertainment from Holt and Moore and local performers.
9. Forget the past
Holt says part of the difficulty of organizing Pride is the past issues that deeply fractured the community. There is a $22,000 debt and issues with the IRS. However, the new board is working with an accountant and also working to be transparent.
"We're literally beg, borrowing and stealing to put this on the best way we can," he says. "If you're not willing to put your money where your mouth is, put up or shut up or step aside. We've seen the decline of Pride for so many years. I just want people to give it a chance."
10. Next year will rock
Holt says with a new board and new attitude, he expects next year to be better.
"I hope people get that what we are trying to do is authentic," Holt says. "These board members have pure intent."