Last month, we wrote about the troubles facing Tucson's LGBT Pride organization—board issues, financial stress and conflicts in the LGBT community. And the week of the Pride festivities, as more and more people continued to complain that they wouldn't attend we asked you to go anyway and then think about rolling up your sleeves and getting involved in the organization to move forward.
Well, we checked in recently with Tucson Pride vice president Kevin Wheeler for an update on how Tucson Pride went and this is what he had to say:
In regards to the numbers we still only have an estimates of 4000, we are still waiting for the number that Kino has from their representatives that were at the gate counting. We are going off of ticket sales. Until we have the final numbers from them we will not have a final outcome on profits. The one thing I can tell you, yes it was profitable, we have taken care of all outstanding 2012 debts, and all of the debts from 2013 less the bill right now from Kino. We have ample funds to cover those expenses and Tucson Pride is and will be in the black. We will be having an open board meeting on November 12, 2013 at 6:00 PM at the Hilton East on Broadway. We have remedied a number of the community issues and have made good on vendor's that paid for vendor spaces at prices that were not sanctioned by Tucson Pride.
We are aware of the organization calling itself Southern Arizona Pride, we are not sure what their idea is about. We already have past and new vendors and sponsors who have committed to our event next year and are exctied about the relationships we are forging. I do know we have new board members that are about community, who have come forward and want to be a part of making this event even bigger and better for next year. Our goal is to continue to grow and become a non profit that gets back to also giving back to the community in more ways than just a great event. We have returning members who served on the board in the past that are now back on board, who left previously because of past struggles with the infrastructure of board politics that see a group of individuals who are passionate about keeping this a community event and; as you said it best, want to roll up their sleeves and leaving the personal agenda's at the door. I really appreciated your article about going to pride. Trust me when I say after what I experienced in the several months on the board with the personal agendas, that is not a way I operate, if I did not believe that is behind us, I would not be as passionate about continuing on the board. I have an always been one that is involved in the community and about making a positive impact on the community. We will be back with both the parade and the pride event for 2014. We now have members who are also passionate about making this all happen.
But just as we were wondering how Tucson Pride went, we heard about another group in town that is still in the early stages as a new nonprofit—Southern Arizona Pride. Founding board president Drew Pratz left after facing his own struggles with the board and concerns about the organization's financial problems.
Pratz told the Range that this new organization is service based—working with a new charity every month. For example, this month it's the Community Food Bank.
"I wanted to create an organization that involved the LGBT community in the greater community, and not just about servicing the LGBT community," he said.
The organization also wants to pick a quarterly all star or community member, nominated by the community for their good work. But right now, the group is looking for board members. Pratz said the organization's motto is "an organization that does good DEEDs — Diversity, Education, Equality, Diplomacy, and Selflessness." The group is registered with the Arizona Secretary of State's office, and Pratz said they are finishing paperwork for federal status.
While Pratz didn't dwell on the past problem of Tucson Pride, he did say that part of the reason he left is that he felt the community deserved better. If current leadership was out, he'd remain involved, he said. "But right now there's no accountability."
And yes, although he's not ready to share more details, one plan for Southern Arizona Pride is to create a Pride event.
"Eventually were going to have an open town hall meeting to get the community involved and find out what they want," Pratz said.
From the Southern Arizona Pride website:
Southern Arizona Pride is a new LGBT organization based out of Tucson, Arizona. Its purpose is simple: to provide the people of southern Arizona with an organization they can depend on - an organization with 100% transparency and a strong desire to serve the LGBT community in an honest, up-front manner. Southern Arizona Pride is committed to educating southern Arizona on issues that affect the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community by sponsoring events and raising awareness of issues affecting the region, and helping those in needs.
Southern Arizona Pride is an organization for the people, by the people. It is an organization that believes in good DEEDS - Diversity, Education, Equality, Diplomacy, and Selflessness. Its main method for achieving these DEEDS is action. It's founder, Drew Pratz along with Vice President Edward Castro, and Tresauer Marty Ross, are dedicated to fulfilling the organization's purpose and serving the community in the best way possible.
"Southern Arizona Pride will be composed of a team of intelligent, community-minded, diverse and dedicated individuals who are happy to serve lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered community throughout southern Arizona. We are determined to make Southern Arizona Pride an organization you can count on, feel confident in, and be proud of", said Pratz.