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Pride in the Park celebrates LGBT community

Tucson Pride celebrated its 40th anniversary on Saturday with Pride in the Park.

The event was held at Reid Park and featured a variety of guests, including singer David Hernandez from "American Idol," Berlin, Fly By Midnight and others.

Arizona local Mark Fetgatter, better known as Bunny FuFu, and Tori Steele hosted the event.

College students, teenagers, grandparents and elementary-age children all came together to celebrate. Many of them expressed their pride through colorful clothing, makeup and hairstyles.

Businesses and sponsors set up tents that circled around the amphitheater. There, they offered samples, business cards and more. Sponsors ranged from Comcast Xfinity to Fry's Food Stores and Jack Daniel's. Hosts and performers rotated on and off the stage throughout the event. The event included a dance tent and children-friendly area.

Sam Cloud, the vice president of the Board of Directors of Tucson Pride, said Tucson Pride is an important event for the Tucson community because it celebrates self-expression.

“Pride is about unity, community and coming together,” Cloud said. “It is about celebrating who we are and celebrating the LGBT community, as well as the freedom to be yourself and self expression.”

Cloud worked with Tucson Pride last year as a sponsor and later decided to join the Board of Directors. 

With a pivot to more conservative government within the last year, the LGBT community has had to adapt to a different political environment.

Cloud said the LGBT community has come a long way politically but will need to keep working to fight for equality.

“We’ve made a lot of strides," Cloud said. "Most recently, there was the legislation regarding same-sex parents that was a huge thing [for the community]. We are making more political progress faster, but we’re not quite there yet. There is still a lot of work to be done, but it’s leaps and bounds from where we started.”

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Pride originated as a peaceful reaction to police discrimination against members of the LGBT community after the 1969 Stonewall Riots. Since then, pride parades and celebrations have become common in many cities around the world, expressing solidarity and unification among the LGBT community.

Twyla Kaye Salaiz has been a leader in the LGBT community for 28 years and first formed a pride group at 22 years old.

“I [formed the group] because there were a lot of people who didn’t understand coming out or didn’t have a safe place to go,” Salaiz said. “So I formed a pride group where women could come in when they’re first coming out and could hang out and talk about issues while meeting friends in a safe place.”

Salaiz also said Tucson Pride serves various purposes for the community, including being a beneficial resource for individuals coming out.

“For people who have newly come out, it’s a place to come and be safe and hang out and meet other people,” Salaiz said. “It’s also just a day to celebrate and be prideful. Especially now with how much has changed, it’s now really more of a celebration.”

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Waco Starr is also a veteran in pride leadership. Starr is a former member of the Board of Directors for Tucson Pride, volunteering and working with them for over 25 years. Starr has done so with organizations such as the Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation and Tumbleweeds Health Center.

Starr said Tucson Pride provides a safe outlet for the LGBT community to come together and be themselves, and added that this year’s event is distinctive from previous years because of the recent shift in government.

“During this time when we are not being heard as much as other groups, this is the time that we need to be out more and showing our true colors and letting people know that we’re not going anywhere and that we’re here to stay," Starr said.


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