The Tucson Trio

By Megan Wadding, October 2015 Issue.

October is LGBT history month. And whether your definition of celebrating means being a part of a long-held tradition, enjoying live entertainment or simply spending a day with family, Tucson has an event for you.

The 38th annual Tucsons Pride in the Desert will take place Oct. 17 at the Kino Sports Complex.

According to April Moss, Tucson Pride president, between 5,000 to 7,000 people from throughout the Southwest and beyond will travel to Tucson to be a part of the celebration.

Photo courtesy of

The reason people seem to come from such a widespread area, Moss added, is due in large part to Tucson Pride’s long history.

“It has to do with Tucson Pride being the oldest LGBTQ organization in the state of Arizona,” Moss said. “This is our 38th year. We started back in 1977 and we are one of the oldest Prides in the nation.”

Another unique feature of Tucson Pride, implemented in recent years, is that the parade and block party take place a full week prior to the actual festival. This year, the Tucson Pride Parade and Block Party will take place Oct. 10 at Sky Bar on Fourth Avenue.

The events were originally separated due to the ongoing construction in the downtown Tucson area. And, according to Moss, the change turned out to be beneficial for the five board members who serve as event organizers.

“When we’re putting up the festival … checking vendors in to the festival,” Moss said, “we’d have to leave one [location] to go to the other, and it can make for a very busy … morning.”

A One-Of-A-Kind Wedding

In honor of Arizona’s one-year anniversary of marriage equality coming to the state, Tucson Pride will host a a mass wedding ceremony as part of the fesrival.

And, to make these nuptuals truly one of kind, international and Billboard Dance Charting artist, Jacinta, will be officiating the ceremony.

“[Jacinta] is an entertainer and diva, who is also ordained,” Moss said. “[Couples] will have the opportunity to get married at Pride, and with [Jacinta] signing their marriage certificate, [it] might be a collector’s item.”

For information or to make arrangements to be married on stage at Pride, email Additionally, she stated, there will be no cost to be a part of the mass wedding.

Moss, who calls the headliner a personal friend, said that Jacinta reached out to her and asked to perform at Pride. Something that Moss said tends to happen a lot with entertainers.

Photo courtesy of

“Entertainers love coming to Tucson,” she said, “… they like the smaller Prides because they don’t get manhandled, and everyone here is down to earth.”

When it comes to choosing which artists will take the Pride stage, Moss said she always looks at what will draw people to the festival.

“We always try to choose entertainers that everyone in the community wants to hear,” she said. “We also want ones who will engage the audience.”

In addition to Jacinta headlining the event’s mainstage, other entertainers include Billboard dance artist, Amuka, who had a smash international hit with “Appreciate Me”  featured on “Queer as Folk”, as well as many local artists.

“We have local newcomers and R&B and rap lesbian duo Real Gone premiering in the line-up,” said Bill Friar, Tucson Pride entertainment director. “[We also have] newcomer dance and pop artist, Paul Edgewater from Chicago.”

Photo courtesy of

The Best of the Fest

Each year, the Pride festival features a wide variety of vendors. This year there will be more than 80 vendors, including a variety of food trucks.

According to Moss, the festival offers a great space for local nonprofits to “strut their stuff” to the community.

“Many of them don’t have anything to sell. This is where their get their information out there for people,” she said. “We have mortgage business[es] and car dealers and a lot of churches. There are so many different things out there that are of interest to our community.”

Rather than featuring food vendors with tents, Moss said they first chose to go with food trucks three years ago.

“The food trucks just pack their bag and go,” she said. “It’s much easier for everyone.”

Moss said also that Tucson Pride offers exclusivity to their food truck vendors, allowing a mutually beneficial relationship to blossom.

“I only have one barbecue food vendor, one kettle korn vendor, one hot dog vendor,” Moss said. “We try to have long-lasting relationships with our vendors. We do what we can to make it good for them.”

For attendees looking to enhance their festival experience, Tucson Pride is offering a $50 VIP package. The package includes admission to a 30-foot VIP tent, two drink tickets, a meal and loaded “swag” bags.

According to Moss, the tent is a perfect place for anyone who wants a shaded spot to sit and watch the entertainers – or host their wedding reception.

“[Newlyweds] can bring a cake and have their reception right in the tent,” Moss said. “They can have their whole wedding party there. What they get is a great deal, considering what a wedding anywhere else would cost.”

Those in the VIP tent get to see the entertainers up close and personal, Moss added.

“It’s all shaded under a nice tent with tables up right next to the stage,” Moss said. “The entertainers usually come in and eat with the VIPs. Our entertainers are great.”

Photo by Kym Jones.

A Family Affair

In recent years, Moss said she’s noticed the trend of families becoming increasinly interested in attending the Pride festival together.

“We’ve really concentrated on making sure Pride is family friendly,” Moss said. “It’s still a small community here in the Old Pueblo [and the festival] is for all ages.”

While some aspects of the celebration can be a little risqué at times, particularly clothing and behavior, Moss said Tucson Pride does try to set some standards to keep things generally family friendly.

“What we work on doing is [trying] to put a different picture in peoples’ minds,” Moss said. “While there are certain things we have no control over, we do try to tell people that we expect them to behave in a certain manner.”

Ultimately, Moss is proud of the fact that Tucson Pride has always been especially welcoming to families and children. This year families are invited to attend the festival’s family friendly area.

“We have three jumping castles ... one is an obstacle course, then a smaller obstacle course, and then a regular jumping castle,” Moss said. “We also have a bungee jump too. A lot of adults do the obstacle course too. ”

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