If you were a creative Tucson nonprofit, what kind of fundraiser might you decide to host? A gala dinner? An art auction? A 5k run?
Or maybe ... a Big Gay Scavenger Hunt?
The Big Gay Scavenger Hunt is the brainchild of Tucson Pride, a local group focused on LGBT issues. Tucson Pride is famous for its work behind our city's Pride in the Desert event, a huge outdoor festival every fall that unites all kinds of people and groups. (Read more about the future of that event in the "Open Letter" in this issue.)
In August 2010, Tucson Pride decided to host a different kind of event. As the group's president, Karon Bohlender, remembers it, board members wanted to create an Amazing Race-type competition "with a gay twist." The Big Gay Scavenger Hunt was born.
The scavenger hunt is actually open to anyone, gay or straight or whatever. It's one of a handful of events planned for Pride History Week, a string of summer days coming up when people reflect on and celebrate the evolution of LGBT fights, rights and might.
Somehow (we promise), the Big Gay Scavenger Hunt is a meaningful part of all that. However, it isn't really a scavenger hunt. It might be better described as a bunch of people purposefully embarrassing themselves by accomplishing a list of tasks—all while documenting it through photography.
Curious yet? Unfortunately, Bohlender won't leak what's on this year's scavenger hunt "task list."
"Half the fun is not knowing what you're gonna have to do until you get the tasks in hand, and then you figure out a strategy to embarrass yourself as much as possible, and have fun in the process," she said.
However, Bohlender did explain the bare bones of the hunt process—and threw in a few fun past "task" examples.
Teams of four or five people are given a list of about 25 crazy tasks, with each task completed earning a certain number of points—and the crazier and more embarrassing the task, the more points the teams get. (The teams must photograph themselves in the act of each task.) There's a set time for each team, and the team that earns the most points at the end of the hunt—in part by being the craziest—gets an awesome prize: a fancy-hotel stay and transportation to and from the Pride in the Desert festival in October, plus VIP event passes.
There are also VIP Pride in the Desert passes awarded to whichever team wears the kookiest costumes. In 2010, said Bohlender, the best-costume-winning team sported denim short-shorts, rainbow-colored suspenders and knee socks.
In 2010, a team member was asked to sprawl on the pavement of a shopping-mall parking lot while having a chalk outline drawn around his or her body—an action during which, in Tucson's June weather, one might wish one had really been murdered. Other tasks involved two team members stuffing themselves into a single pair of pants; one member getting a library card from the Himmel Park branch (not embarrassing, but meaningful, since the library is near the site of the first Tucson Pride event, in 1977); and singing "I'm a Little Teapot" in the lobby of the Radisson hotel on Speedway Boulevard.
Finally, at the end of each "hunt," all teams—and Tucson Pride supporters—meet at a bar to bond, support Tucson Pride and celebrate all of the teams' feats. (You'd think the drinking would need to take place before the crazy tasks, but no.)
Like we said, we can't give away this year's tasks—but we do know they're no easier, or no less ridiculous, than those from Big Gay Scavenger Hunts of yore.
"All the participants have reported they've had a blast doing this," said Bohlender. "They all laugh at themselves when the competition is over."
OK, Karon. We believe you.