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Tucson celebrates '45 years of pride' in the Borderlands this weekend

Tucson celebrates '45 years of pride' in the Borderlands this weekend

  • Celebrate LGBTQ+ Pride with Tucson Pride this weekend.
    Tucson Pride FacebookCelebrate LGBTQ+ Pride with Tucson Pride this weekend.

Three days full of pride and fun activities will take place from Friday to Sunday this weekend in Tucson, as members of the LGBT community celebrate along with friends, family and allies.

Every year, Tucson Pride organizes a series of events for LGBT History Month. On Friday, a Pride Parade will begin at 7:30 p.m. and will end at 8:30 p.m. Wendell Hicks, the executive director of the Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation from 2007 through 2019, was announced as the grand marshal.

"When Wendell moved to Tucson, he didn't know a soul," Tucson Pride said in a Facebook post. "But loved it immediately and felt welcomed by the community. His accomplishments within the agency's mission were many. Arguably, one of the boldest was to expand the mission to include programs for at-risk youth."

The parade will go through Downtown, beginning northbound on Stone Avenue and loop to end at Armory Park.

The next day, Saturday, October 1, the Tucson Pride Festival will take place at the Georges DeMeester Outdoor Performance Center at Reid Park.

The festival will begin at noon and it ends at 10 p.m. The main stage lineup includes UofA Swing Cats, DJ Motion, Kiki House of Majestic, Velo and the house music icon, Crystal Waters. For the last day of activities hosted by Tucson Pride, there will be a Tucson Pride Drag Brunch. The brunch begins at 10 a.m. and ends at 2 p.m. The location is HighWire Tucson at 14 S. Arizona Ave.

The Tucson Lesbian and Gay Alliance, more commonly known as Tucson Pride, is a nonprofit, volunteer-operated organization founded in 1977.

It was the first LGBTQ+ association in Arizona and has focused on community outreach by creating a scholarship for young LGBTQ+ people seeking college education and workshops regarding topics such as foster care and life skills, for example.

Tucson Pride was formed in the aftermath of the killing of Richard Heakin in 1976. Heakin, who was openly gay, had been visiting friends in Tucson. He was beaten to death by a group of teenagers when he was exiting Stonewall Tavern. Heakin was 21 years old. The four teenagers who killed him, Scott McDonald, Russell Van Cleve, Herman Overpeck and Charles Shemwell, were sentenced to probation, ending when they turned 21.

Heakin's killing prompted Tucson city leaders to enact one of the first ordinances protecting gays and lesbians from discrimination in the United States. In recent years, those protections in public accommodations and employment have been extended to transgender residents as well.

Bianca Morales is’s Cultural Expression and Community Values reporter, and a Report for America corps member supported by readers like you.

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