By Danae Barnes, April 2016 Web Exclusive.

Without a doubt, the LGBTQ community has moved into the mainstream. And, as a result, the stigma around being "in the life" or "that way" has lessened.

Pride celebrations are no exception to this trend. Festivals were once small affairs but now draw hundreds of thousands of attendees. Musical acts have gone from gay or lesbian stars to contemporary, often heterosexual performers. Corporate sponsors are a regular sight at Pride events. Many festivalgoers are LBGTQ, while some are the simply curious. A big Pride festival can be a wonderful experience, but one that may not necessarily help you find people who truly share your daily struggles and successes.

In this piece, Echo reached out to some (but, of course, not all) groups in the Phoenix area that represent different elements of the LGBTQ community. In doing so, we honor their rainbow of voices, and the work that is still needed to achieve true inclusiveness, acceptance and understanding.

The individuals interviewed in this piece sometimes spoke for themselves, sometimes for their organization. However, a common thread arose: a real desire for acceptance at all levels: self-acceptance, acceptance of others and acceptance by others. Each of these voices make up the rainbow that is our holistic identity, and that is undoubtedly a source of pride this season.

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Photo courtesy of The Dinah

The Dinah

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Photo courtesy of Michael Feinstein.

Michael Feinstein

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Gilles Toucas

Michael Feinstein will commemorate Judy Garland’s life on March 20 at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.

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