Pride and Joy

Remembering the Past, Charting the Future History, education and fun mix at Tucson Pride 2019

History runs deep at this year's Tucson Pride, and not just because this year is the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, which are widely regarded as the catalyst for the modern fight for gay rights in the United States. More than a festival, for 2019, Tucson Pride is expanding into education and historic preservation.

"We have a wide lineup of events this year, it's not just a festival or a parade," says Tucson Pride President Sam Cloud. "We're refocusing our efforts on education. After all, knowledge is power."

One of the core events is a fresh effort to archive local LGBTQ history. Cloud sees it as a way to help solve a possible disconnect of information about gay rights between younger and older generations. The Tucson "Queerstory R*Evolution" is a living history project dedicated to promoting the understanding of diverse queer history, its people, culture and arts.

"They've started archiving both physical memorabilia and videos, photos, and anything they can gather," Cloud says. "They'll even be collecting personal stories from attendees on video. It supports our initiative to refocus our purpose as providing education to the community."

While many Pride events commemorate the Stonewall Riots, Tucson Pride remembers its own historical "Stonewall" event: In 1976, a young gay man named Richard Heakin was murdered after leaving the Stonewall Tavern here in Tucson. From this tragedy, Tucson's gay community united to fight for change. Tucson Pride was founded the following year as the "Tucson Lesbian and Gay Alliance" and has not stopped fighting since. It's these kinds of stories that Cloud hopes to preserve and share through Pride's new efforts.

Aside from this, Tucson Pride 2019 is hosting many recurring community events.

On Saturday, Sept. 28, the Tucson Pride Parade runs from Country Club & Broadway into Reid Park. This parade concludes at the Pride in the Park Festival, which includes more than 100 community resources and vendors, as well as multiple performers both local and from out of town.

The music headliner on the Demeester Outdoor Performance Center stage is Debby Holiday, an eclectic singer/songwriter who broke onto the dance music scene in 2004. Her "half rock/half dance" music is described as dancefloor hits for equality and acceptance.

This year's Pride festival also includes an additional stage for music. According to Cloud, this "community stage" will allow Tucson Pride to feature double the amount of local entertainers.

The Pride festival at Reid Park will also be home to the official Tucson Queerstory Exhibit, which includes items and stories from the local queer past. The exhibit also includes an interactive history walk through out the festival documenting important local steps in gay rights.

Multiple local establishments are embracing the Pride season as well, including Bookmans, The Hut, Hotel Congress and O'Malley's.

After the festivities of Sept. 28, Romano's Macaroni Grill and Playground Bar & Lounge will host closing events on Sunday, Sept. 29. Romano's hosts the official Pride Brunch, which includes multiple drink specials and 20 percent of all sales will be given to Tucson Pride. Playground hosts "Hot Tea," the official closing of Tucson Pride, with a dance party of go-go dancers and live performers.

The Tucson Pride Parade and Festival take place Saturday, Sept. 28 from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. For more information visit

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