by Keith Ashley
Bruce Hyland – Senior Pride Board Chair
When Senior Pride Board Chair Bruce Hyland describes his passion as “Adventure Travel”, you have to wonder if he isn’t actually describing his entire life’s journey. As he left his home state of Kansas at 21, Bruce seems to have taken some of that Wizard of Oz magic (and a breath of tornado energy?) as his guiding light.
Bruce grew up in a Kansas village of just 300, but his Masters of Business degree made him so marketable that his early career almost got ahead of him. He caught up to it when hired by American Express Financial Advisors, the firm that first brought him to Tucson in the early 1980’s. Bruce soon had a spiritual experience in the Tucson Mountains in which he recognized that Tucson was his one true home—but that didn’t mean he could settle down just yet.
Bruce soon joined a consulting firm in San Francisco, where he advised the likes of Sonny Bono (at that time mayor of a small town called Palm Springs). Still Bruce had to keep adventuring… after earning his PhD he became head of Business and Management at City College in San Francisco and eventually an advisor to the Federal Reserve.
“But none of that is interesting,” Bruce will tell you. Sailing down the Mei Kong River in Cambodia, crawling through the Cu Chi Tunnels in Vietnam, riding elephants in India, visiting the real Count Dracula’s Castle in Transylvania. These are the stops along his yellow brick road that truly excite Bruce.
“These experiences bring me into the absolute now.” Bruce explains. “They force me to culturally adapt. They change my perspective. They teach me to connect with people, without relying on my vocabulary.” 45 countries later, Bruce is looking forward to exploring South America next.
As for his work with Senior Pride, Bruce is delighted to be spending some quality time with his tribe. “I’ve lost a lot of people in my life,” he says. “First to the AIDS epidemic, and now just through natural causes. One of the most painful things is losing the people who share your history, personally and collectively. You had to have lived it to really get it.”
Bruce compares taking this deep dive into the Senior Pride community to those people who, later in life, return to spend time with their biological families. Bruce reflects: “I just relate much more passionately to my gay tribe than my family tribe.”
Bruce has been back in Tucson for 10 years now. Dorothy was right: There’s no place like home.