Lupe Castillo

Growing up in Tucson’s barrio, Lupe Castillo learned at an early age about the fight for social justice. Even as a child, she was keenly aware of the intense segregation that existed at the time.

Her parents, Carlos and Eliza Castillo, set examples for Lupe and her three brothers and one sister: “My mother was a real fighter for the rights of people and my father took us to labor union meetings.”
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Josefina Ahumada

For most of her life, Josefina Ahumada knew she was being called to service. Last year, upon retirement from fulltime work at Arizona State University (ASU) Social Work Program, she answered the call to extend beyond social service to offering spiritual guidance when she became a lay pastor for the Presbyterian church on the Tohono O’Odham nation in Sells…
» Read full profile by Bruce Hyland


Live Your Truth!

As Ken Felts, 90, worked on a memoir, old memories gave him the push he needed to reveal openly for the first time that he was gay. His Facebook post went viral and was featured on the Today Show.

Watch his inspiring story and see how his message is helping others find the strength to live their truth.

Claire Ellington

Claire Ellington knew from an early age that the conventional middle-class world didn’t have everything quite right. Growing up a tomboy “from the get go” in 1950s-60s Charlotte, NC, “I recognized right away the world had a problem, but I didn’t have a problem.” Claire’s rebellion against conventional life put her on a fiercely independent path of discovery to root out and dismantle oppression in her own life and help others do the same…
»Read full profile by Ed Kimble

What Makes You Gay Proud? Seven Answers.

Bruce Hyland asked some of Tucson’s treasured queer elders what makes them proud of their LGBTQI+ experience. Among them were an actor, flag dancer, anthropologist, goat herder, stage manager, activist, musician, judge, Harvard dean, health nut, business owner, counselor, and literature professor. We are forever grateful for their contributions to gay rights and the wisdom they gained in the process, which we proudly share with you to Thrive with Pride 2020.

»Read the seven answers!

Jo Schneider: Owner, La Cocina

by Joyce Bolinger

A longtime member and supporter of the LGBTQI+ community, Jo Schneider owns Tucson’s downtown La Cocina, known for its outdoor patio, eclectic cuisine, and live music. When Tucson Mayor Regina Romero closed restaurants March 17 to contain the spread of COVID-19, Jo began serving free food to out-of-work dishwashers, servers, entertainers, and others — “we don’t turn anyone away,” she says.

Since March 22, Jo has served about 80 free meals 3 times a week. She has donated free meals to TIHAN as well. Part of a non-profit Feeding Those who Feed Us, Jo is also a member of Too Soon Arizona, a group of small businesses who plan to delay re-opening for safety concerns.

Kevin Maxey: Retired Emergency Room Physician

By Bruce Hyland
Photo credit: Tomcat Enterprises Photography© James Scott P. Pignatella

photo of Kevin Maxey and Richard Wegner
Kevin Maxey & Richard Wegner

Kevin is holing up with his dearly beloved (Richard Wegner) and cooking food and sharing it with a couple other households. They are playing cards, games and working puzzles. He’s anxious, but very grateful to be with his husband through this. »Meet Kevin Maxey

Tom Buchanan: Retired non-profit organizational leader

by Bruce Hyland
Photo credit: Joyce Bolinger

Photo of Tom Buchanan

Tom sometimes feels impatient, uncertain, nervous, agitated, but always grateful that he’s safe with his husband in their home. He has a sense that life will be changing. One aspect, given his nonprofit expertise, is how the performing arts will change. How will they survive? How will they adapt? He’s pleased to see pollution levels come down dramatically, even with it only being having been a short time when ships, planes, polluting vehicles, etc. made changes that allowed this. »Meet Tom Buchanan

Brad Holland: Musician, Attorney, Tribal Elder

by Bruce Hyland
Photo credit: Daniel Snyder

Head and shoulders photo of Brad Holland

Brad is a life-long advocate for those who are less advantaged. He is a musician and lawyer retired from the Office of the Pima County Attorney. Today, Brad is pleased to act as attorney with Homicide Survivors. About the COVID-19 pandemic, he says, “We older LGBTQ+ have hard-won training to deal with this. We know how to survive a plague. .. Who else has been through this, but us?”
»Meet Brad Holland

Lola Lai Jong: Poet

by Bruce Hyland
Photo credit: Joyce Bolinger

Lola Jong, speaking into a microphone at a podium

Lola is busy with projects and focusing on being happy. She goes out for walks, being mindful on those treks of the beauty around her. “Of course I’ve had bumps in the road and hit boulders in life. But I learned to deal with things. My goal is to be happy. When I hit a dip, I look inside myself to see what’s really going on. It’s very important for us to know ourselves…” »Meet Lola Lai Jong