Thursday, October 23, 2008

Observer Editorial: Give Pride by Taking Pride

Thousands of people, straight, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT), questioning or otherwise gathered Saturday, October 18, along Country Club Road and Reid Park’s DeMeester Band Shell for “Pride on Parade” and “Pride in the Desert.”

These two events are organized by Tucson Pride Inc. (TPI), a described “an Arizona non profit corporation, an IRS 501©3 non profit organization that produces and promotes cultural, educational and recreation events for the GLBT community in Tucson Arizona.”

According to the program provided and its website (, TPI produces three events each year - Pride Week in June, Pride on Parade and Pride in the Desert in October.

TPI’s “Mission Statement” is as follows - Our Purpose is to produce and promote Pride events for Tucson, Arizona, throughout the year. Our Intent is to create forums through which Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Heterosexual people can express their Creativity, Visibility, Unity, and Diversity with Dignity. Our Aim is to nurture Cultural and Artistic expression throughout the Community. Our Goal is to Educate, Commemorate, and Celebrate Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender History, Uniqueness, and Diversity in all the facets of our Community. All in the Pursuit of Equality.

How can a community pursue equality when Tucson’s LGBT history seems to have been put down a “memory hole” since no mention of it, the successes, failures, triumphs and tragedies don’t appear either in the TPI program or website. TPI’s “history”is posted but not Tucson’s LGBT history.

What about Tucson’s anti-discrimination ordinance - on the books since 1977; Tucson dealing with the AIDS crisis with the formation of TAP (Tucson AIDS Project), Shanti Foundation and the People With AIDS Coalition when it was the “Gay Cancer” in the 1980's; the formation of Wingspan; the first proclamation by then Tucson Mayor TomVolgy, twenty years ago in 1988; Tucson’s Mayor and Council becoming the first governmental entity to approve a hate crimes ordinance with full criminal penalties in 1995; Tucson’s Mayor and Council, in 1997, recognizing the committed same-sex relationships (and families) of its employees by extending medical and dental benefits to them with Pima County following suit and being victorious in a court battle a year later; the formation of the City of Tucson Commission on LGBT issues in 1999; the election of Karin Uhlich in 2005, the first open Lesbian to the Tucson City Council and Paula Aboud to Arizona’s State Senate in 2006? None of which were nary to be seen or read about, a bad note for an event marking pride in the accomplishments of a community. History, the good and the bad, will repeat itself and knowledge is power, something TPI advocates.

Speaking of advocating, TPI has stated and noted that proceeds from the events they organize and produce are given back to the community - a nice statement and thought but the process of which groups are determined to be given funds and for how much isn’t known or is taken for granted, something TPI needs to remind the community, especially those who paid the $15 fee this year, about the history of this, something the organization has an open invite and space in this publication, Tucson’s LGBT weekly newspaper, online website and blog, to use, inform, educate and encourage.

TPI’s efforts are to be applauded but the “educate and inform” sentenced of their Mission Statement needs to be upheld, encouraged and embraced so that all can give pride by taking pride.

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