The 2021 Tucson Pride's Annual Pride in the Desert parade and festival has been postponed for the second year in a row due to concerns for public health and the safety of the Tucson community.
After analyzing COVID-19 risk factors from large gatherings, the Tucson Pride board of directors decided that postponing this celebration would be the safest and most responsible decision.
Pride in the Desert is rescheduled for October 2022. Bill Travis, the public relations director of Tucson Pride, said it was a hard decision to make.
“We kind of looked at it with the importance of people's health. We wanted to make sure no one would get sick,” Travis said.
According to Travis, not having the Tucson Pride parade is a loss for the community. This lively event takes place once a year and gives people the opportunity to express themselves freely while promoting cultural and educational support for the LGBTQ+ community.
“With the loss of this year and last year's event, I think we will come out better and stronger because of the anticipation of next year's event, which this organization is continuing to plan,” Travis said.
Tucson Pride has been celebrating diversity and inclusion for nearly 40 years.
In 1976, Richard Heakin, a young gay man, was murdered in Tucson. This murder struck the city of Tucson and, in response, members of the community united to protest for a change resulting in the formation of the Tucson Pride.
The Tucson Pride organization was established in 1977 and is known as Arizona’s first and longest documented LGBTQ+ founded organization.
Since then, Tucson Pride has provided a positive resource for the LGBTQ+ community through its nonprofit events. During this celebration, participants can engage with local food vendors, LGBTQ+ allied organization services, free goods, drag shows and more.
“This event is very important. It brings the community together where everyone can be themselves, and the gay community is quite diverse and this event is a celebration of diversity,” Travis said.
Despite the difficult decision to push back this event, supporters continue to unite, advocate and educate others.
Mari Nemec, president of the PrideLaw Organization at the University of Arizona, was disheartened to hear of the cancellation of the annual parade.
This festival gives individuals the opportunity to support one another through celebration and advocating for equal rights, something which PrideLaw strives to provide through their program, according to Nemec.
“PrideLaw is trying to uplift our community, advocate for our community and just be together. So even though big events like this are getting cancelled, that doesn't mean you can’t on a smaller scale or virtually still support and be with each other,” Nemec said.
Besides the Annual Pride in the Desert parade and festival, there are still many other ways to celebrate LGBTQ+ pride.
“I think that as Pride events get cancelled here and there, an important thing to keep in mind is you can always carve out that space for yourself and find other people in the community and create your own events,” Nemec said.
RELATED: Mask mandates, testing and vaccines: How the fall semester is looking for the University of Arizona
Austin Randall, a desk assistant at LGBTQ Affairs at the UA, said there are many other ways in which individuals can stay involved with one another.
"I know the cancellation of LGBT events in the area has been hard on a lot of the community but we are looking forward to getting back into things but in the meantime, the LGBTQ resource center is an amazing contact," Randall said.
LGBTQ Affairs offers different activities that help to build community such as providing safe spaces, movie nights, craft events and other activities which allow different members of the LGBTQ+ community to feel welcomed and accepted.
The women and gender studies department, LGBTQ+ oriented Greek Life, Counseling and Psych Services and Campus Health are other services provided by the UA that offer educational resources for people of all backgrounds, genders and sexualities.
Follow Abbie Kosoc on Twitter