Community Profiles

Community Profile: Bruce Hyland

Our Board Chair Bruce Hyland left Kansas at 21 and appears to have taken some of that Wizard of Oz magic as his guiding light.

Community Profile: Dr. Deanna Lewis

Dr. Deanna Lewis, fire fighter, Physician Assistant, MBA, DrPH, non-profit founder, gourmet soap maker. “I thrive on new experiences,” she says. No kidding.

Community Profile: Richard May

“I am not my age. I am Richard.” “I am an amalgamation of my own ideas, life experiences and the ideas, experiences of other people who I learned from.”
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Luis Ortega

Luis did not want to move to Tucson from New York City, but he made a deal with his partner to do so. Sixteen years later, he has come to love it.
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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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Carlos Valenzuela

Carlos Valenzuela met his first strictly platonic “girlfriend,” Gustavo, at age seven, but it took them another seven years before admitting they found guys in school very attractive. Sixty years later, they are still best friends.

Carlos grew up in Agua Prieta, Sonora Mexico. His career started as an international manager with Levi Strauss in San Francisco in 1971. “A great time to be in San Francisco: flower power, hippies, disco, and gay bars!” he recalls.
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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

Claire Ellington

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

collage of interviewee photos from article Gay Proud

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.