A Tucson Tradition

By Megan Wadding, October 2016 Issue.

Each October, LGBTQ History Month, attendees from near and far head to southern Arizona to participate in two of the state’s oldest Pride celebrations.

For 2016, Tucson’s Pride presents its 16th annual Pride on Parade and block party Sept. 30 and its 39th annual Pride in the Desert Oct. 1, which returns to its original location at Reid Park this year.

“Arizona is very special in the sense of community,” said John Foley, Tucson Pride president. “Pride definitely brings people from all over our state. With the decision to return to our roots at Reid Park, we are expecting quite a few [attendees] this year.”

An International Procession

This year, Tucson Pride will broadcast live coverage of the parade around the world.

"Everything is broadcasted live through internet connection," explained Foley. "WMRX [Radio Network] will be announcing each parade entry as it passes by Sky Bar and Brooklyn Pizza."

According to Foley, more than 250 people will be marching in the parade, which will run from along Fourth Avenue from Second to Ninth street. The after-party, which will feature DJ Remix, his crew and DJ Lady Finger, will take place 7 p.m. at Sky Bar and Brooklyn Pizza. Admission, $5 dollar cover, will benefit Tucson Pride.

"Get Ready"

According to Foley, this year’s theme, “Get Ready,” was picked in accordance with all of the new things that Tucson Pride has planned, including “a new look, a new vision, and new energy.”

The energy will certainly be off the charts on the festival's main stage, which will host performances by Velo, Debby Holiday and Kennedy Davenport.

“We have three majorly talented artist gracing our stage this year,” Foley said. “[And] I have two very wonderfully talented board members in charge of all entertainment: Lucinda Holliday and Tempest DuJour. I have come to trust their judgment and their incredible abilities.”

Holliday and DuJour will also be sharing the stage this year as co-emcees.

In his new role as Tucson Pride president, Foley said one of his goals for the organization is growing the size of the celebration.

“I would really like to see Tucson Pride have a no-fee admission policy in the next two years,” Foley said. “I want the festival to grow. Each year we should be out doing the past year in parade, festival, entertainment and fundraising.”

Seasons of Change

Earlier this year, Tucson Pride announced a new board of directors.

“These people have such a dedication that I can’t help but think of them as special,” said Foley. “They have poured their time, energy and sweat into this year’s Pride. They are a remarkable team to work with, not to mention, they all are tremendous advocates for our community.”

Foley, who was brought on as the organization’s president July 17, said he has many big goals for the organization.

“I became president because it was time for new blood and imagination to move Tucson Pride forward,” he explained, adding that he wants to “re-set the bar of standards” that are currently in place.

Items on Foley's to-do list, include a new plan to use the entire next year to focus on fundraising and having more community involvement.

"Our mission, first and foremost, is to be completely transparent in our business practices," Foley said. "This community has stood by Tucson Pride for 39 years, [so] it is high time that our organization starts giving back."

Another goal of Foley’s is to having the Tucson Lesbian and Gay Alliance organization “recognized as an organization of leaders driven by cultural diversity.”

Foley added that all of the Pride board's goals are a collaboration of each and every person in the organization.

“Our organization needs this community and our community needs a gay pride organization they can be proud of supporting,” he said.

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