A somber Pride anniversary

LOOKOUT's community newsletter on culture, events, and happenings!

Letter from the Editor

Hi LOOKOUT family and friends-

It's been an incredibly busy Pride month so far at LOOKOUT. We've been jumping around to multiple conferences trying to schmooze with funders and champions of independent news to make sure that our readers and followers—almost 12,000 of you strong!—continue to receive the news you all have told us you trust and appreciate.

Just like at any conference, there are multiple opportunities to do dreaded "ice-breakers." Personally, I don't mind them, but I can appreciate the grievances from people being forced into a trust fall.

For one icebreaker, someone asked how I got into journalism; I shied away from the question, because it's not the kind of story you tell to those you're asking money from. But afterward, I realized that it's probably the kind of story our readers want to know, because it gives a perspective of why I started LOOKOUT in the first place.

To put it plainly: My sister is to blame.

When I was 14 years old, my oldest sister, Melanie, was diagnosed with lupus, an autoimmune disease. I will never forget the late-night arguments my mother had with the health insurance company for dropping Melanie because her illness was a "pre-existing condition," and after months of caring for her in California and eventually moving her home, she died a year later at Tucson's University Medical Center. She was only 26 years old, and it still hurts my heart when I drive by the campus, to the point where I avoid driving by it when I'm in the city.

My sister was my biggest champion and always knew I would come out in my own time. She lived an extravagant and fabulous life in Santa Monica. She went to Pride parades dressed in pink boas so large they dragged behind her as she walked down La Cienega. She collected gay men like she collected pink wigs and sequined tube tops. Her treasures were a collection of X-Men magazines she stole from a Phoenix comic store in the 90's, and a pair of pink Miu Miu pumps.

After she died, though, I drove deep into my own homophobia, as I lost the one protector I thought I could feel safe with. I eventually got over that shame when I moved to Los Angeles with my other sister, and I happily (and safely) came out while living in Long Beach.

But I had never learned from anyone what healthy boundaries were, or what being safe with my heart and my body looked like. The one person who would poke fun saying she would "teach me the ways" was gone, and I didn't have the family support to ask the questions I needed to ask.

I made mistakes, said awful things and did even worse things. And years later one morning—very hungover and coming down off of a cocktail of drugs—I woke up behind a dumpster that had become my de facto home-base for a few weeks.

I knew I wanted to make sure no one ended up like that.

This story cuts different this month, because this week is the anniversary of when she died. At the time, I didn't realize why—a week before she died—she wanted me to come in her room so she could practice doing makeup on me and us listening to RuPaul's album together. It was because Pride month was when she felt most loved by the family she chose to be around, and it warms me knowing that I was part of that small group of people.

I hope you take the time to visit some of the events below over the next month. Never forget that you are wanted here, you're needed here, and you belong to a powerful community. You just need to show up for it.

-Joseph Darius Jaafari


WHERE ARE WE KIKI-ING?

Last weekend, we gathered together at Boycott Bar in the Melrose District to discuss the future of LGBTQ+ politics for the first in our Summer of Solutions series. If you missed the first one, don't worry! We have four more planned for the summer. Keep tuned here to learn about them.

🏳️‍🌈 UPCOMING KIKIS

Have a community event coming up you want LOOKOUT to highlight? Email us.

  • Fri. June 14 - If you're in northern Arizona, check out the Flagstaff Pride Film Festival in collaboration with Flagstaff Pride, the Flagstaff Film Festival, and Arizona Women's Film Festival. Info
  • Fri. June 14 - Thundercat Lounge is hosting a Pride at Night Music Festival. Info
  • Fri. June 14- Art Culture AZ is putting on the unofficial (but first of its kind) Pride festival in Sunnyslope at 7 p.m. Info
  • Sat. June 15 - Bisbee hosts their annual Pride festival. Info
  • Sat. June 15 - Phoenix Gaymers are meeting at Ripple's new community space for a game night. Info
  • Sat. June 15 - Flagstaff's Pride in the Pines starts at 12. Info
  • Sun. June 16 - Phoenix Pride hosts their annual awards ceremony. Come meet our Executive Director, Jake Hylton, who will be accepting the BJ Bud award on behalf of LOOKOUT. Info
  • Mon. June 17 - Human Rights Campaign-AZ is hosting a campaign event at Kobalt. Info
  • Wed. June 19 - Drag Story Hour-AZ is hosting a virtual Juneteenth storytime. Info
  • Fri. June 21 - Crescent Ballroom is putting on a Chappell Roan dance party. Info
  • Sat. June 22 - Jews for Pride are holding a Pride Shabbat Bagel Lunch. Info
  • Sat. June 22- The Tucson folks at Queer AF are holding a Pride pool party at the AC Hotel. Info
  • Wed. June 26 - The group at thems is putting together another Fruity Poetry Night. Info
  • Thurs. June 27 - Join SW Center in event to celebrate your health and wellness at the Parson's Center. Info
  • Thurs. June 27 - PEN America is hosting a conversation at Bookman's in Phoenix on debunking misinformation, including surrounding and within the LGBTQ+ community. Info
  • Fri. June 28- Tucson's Queer AF crew puts on an open mic night at the Downtown Clifton. Info
  • Sat. June 29- Navajo Nation Pride holds their festival and market in Window Rock, Ariz. Info
  • Sat. June 29 -Your Health is a doing a trans physical therapy session at their opening at The Royale. Info

THE WEEKLY KIKI

Same thing as our "Out of the Closet" game, just with a new name! Play "The Weekly Kiki" every week to be entered into our monthly drawing for exclusive LOOKOUT swag. The more times you play, the more chances you get to win! The next drawing will be May 30. Rules: Without the LGBTQ+ community, there’s less meaning. Guess the word below with only the support of the letters L, G, B, T, Q, I, A and submit your answer

_LAG_TA_ _

*Hint: In 1992, this Northern AZ city held its first gay and lesbian music festival, which the county sheriff publicly denounced in the local newspaper.

Last Week's answer: RUSTY WARREN

Last week's winners: Sheila K (Phoenix)

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