(Due to financial constraints, the Observer will not be able to put out a print edition of the publication for the forseeable future. If viewing this online, please read and consider it. The Observer has been there for the community since 1976 and hopefully the community will be there now for it.)
It was 1976 and the murder of a member of the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) family of Tucson, Richard Heakin and the legal machinations of the judge in the case of three high school students charged (who were granted probation for taking a life) what sparked the LGBT and straight supportive community to action.
Through this event and the subsequent movement to make sure this legal injustice doesn’t happen again and to ensure that the rights of LGBT citizens of the Old Pueblo are never trampled upon, Tucson became a “beacon” with its anti-discrimination ordinance adopted in February 1977, by a unanimous vote by the Tucson Mayor and City Council.
A campaign like this needed a voice, an outlet for people to know what was happening, to instruct people what the needed to do and where to go and importantly, to inform their elected officials of their support for the ordinance and that it was the right thing to do by voting in favor of it. With that, the Observer (then known as the Arizona Gay News) hit the newsstands.
Over the years, this publication has prided itself in providing an outlet for Tucson’s LGBT community organizations, offering the news, an avenue for LGBT and straight supportive writers to get their start in journalism and to keep people aware of what is going on in the lives of Tucson’s and Southern Arizona’s LGBT family and how things could affect them, something the corporate media doesn’t do.
In the past four decades, the Observer has helped to start marking Pride with an annual nonprofit event in Himmel Park and the formation of the Tucson Lesbian/Gay Alliance, publicize and assist in the effort to raise funds for those living with HIV/AIDS in the 1980's with the annual Jell-O Wrestling, AIDS Walk and PACT for Life fund raising events and holding an annual benefit for community organizations, to name a few of the many actions initiated.
Most importantly, this publication has provided something to the LGBT and straight supportive community of Tucson and thanks to the advent of the Internet, the online world, the history of Tucson’s LGBT and HIV/AIDS communities in the past four decades and thanks to the donations of many supportive people and several benefit fund raisers, it has a place on the World Wide Web for all to see, typos and all.
Unlike the corporate media, this publication is not produced for huge financial profit, a cheesy “tax write off,” fast cars or fancy office space but to provide the Tucson and Southern Arizona LGBT and HIV/AIDS communities the news and views on issues of concern and an outlet for LGBT owned businesses, local groups and organizations.
Some readers may think that the Observer may always be there every week in print or online, taking it for granted the economic aspect of this endeavor, it does cost to put out a publication in print and online on weekly basis, one of the few such entities in the nation to do so, something the production staff of three and the community writers take pride in but the current economic realities will be a part of this, like the proverbial “rain cloud on the horizon.”
When one reads the weekly edition in whichever form they prefer, take the time to look at all the advertisements, including the announcements and classified and if one is interested, go to those businesses and groups and spend your “pink dollar,” at these places to help out the LGBT owned and straight supportive businesses and organizations.
So when reading the Observer, either in print or online, consider making a small contribution to help defray the web/Internet costs to help keep the publication free, online and most importantly, weekly. This publication over the years has beaten the daily newspapers in this town covering the same issues concern the LGBT community and HIV/AIDS and will continue to strive to do so for the future.
At the website or the blog, people have the option of donating through the PayPal system but for those wanting to send a check, make checks payable to “The Observer,” and mail them to P.O. Box 50733, Tucson, AZ 85703 and with “a little help from our friends,” we all will get by during these times.
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