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What does Phoenix want for 2021?

A community wish list for the next year

Text appearing behind torn red envelop - Wish list

By Jason Keil

There’s no sugarcoating it: 2020 was a horrible year.

The pandemic and everything that came with it sullied any optimism we had for the first chapter of the new decade. But there were some silver linings to be had. Arizona became a blue state for the first time in years despite the Trump administration’s attempts to reverse the results, and there is now an effective vaccine to battle COVID-19. 

There is still a long way to go until we reach some semblance of normalcy, but we’re feeling pretty optimistic about 2021. We asked those in the community what was on their wish list for this year, and while everyone’s list is different, there is real hope that positive change is on the horizon. 

Espressa Grandé, Miss Gay Arizona America 2019 and 2020

1. A better gel black liner that doesn’t run! Tell me why this thick and juicy queen can’t get a black liner that doesn’t move!

2. More Chipotle discount codes and coupons to keep this queen looking like a STALLION!

3. A fully vaccinated Arizona! I know myself amongst other entertainers are so ready to get back into the performance realm!

4. Kindness: This year has pushed us to the limits. 2021 will be the year of #ElevatedRebuild! Our community will pick itself up to rebuild what we lost because of this terrible pandemic. I wish for kindness, compassion, love. Because with that, we will come back stronger and ELEVATED! @EspressaG on Twitter

Espressa Grande by Scotty Kirby. Gown by Charles Horner, hair by Cassandra McKenzie, jewelry by Lucinda Holliday

Angela Hughey, President, ONE Community

Angela Hughey

One of the good things that came out of last year is the importance of working together. We want to work collaboratively with LGBTQ businesses and organizations and educate everyday Arizonans and elected officials on the importance of being a state that is truly welcoming and open for business to everyone. onecommunity.co


Jose Rodriguez, Vice-Chairman for the Greater Phoenix Equality Chamber of Commerce

We’re hoping for a little more stability in 2021. The [Greater Phoenix Equality Chamber of Commerce] wasn’t sure how to proceed with events like we typically would, so we’ll continue to hold virtual events and see how to proceed quarterly.

There are going to be a lot of people hurting financially, especially in the service industry. But I foresee things picking up with the vaccine becoming more widespread and more events held outdoors. phoenixgaychamber.org


Kenny Barrett, Co-Owner, Phoenix General

Kenny Barrett and Joshua Hahn by Maria Vassett

We had to try extra hard during the pandemic to drive sales and build our online Phoenix General store. We started making new products like hand sanitizers, so I hope a lot of that heavy lifting and hard work in 2020 will pay off and help us grow as things normalize. 

Our big goal is to continue to grow our online presence, create more Phoenix General branded products, and dip our toes into the apothecary realm with hand soaps and lotions. phxgeneral.com


Michael Soto, Executive Director, Equality Arizona

My holiday wish is that as individuals, families, communities, and as a society, we are able to recover from the trauma of the last year and can find new ways to thrive, live with pride, and win equality in every aspect of our lives. equalityarizona.org

Michael Soto


Statement from Trans Queer Pueblo

Our hopes for 2021 are:

1. Ending detention and deportation with a Biden administration. The chances of this happening increase but are still limited. We now know who he is tapping to lead in immigration, and we know we will have to push.

2. Defunding the police and investing in communities of color. We continue to support campaigns that defund a violent, racist, and antagonist police department in Phoenix with the hope of funneling resources for students of color in high school and for people of color to have access to mental health services and other resources. 

3. Ending Phoenix’s manifesting prostitution law. It has been in the books for over 20 years. It is absurd that by waving in public or hailing a taxi, you are committing the intent to prostitute. This law is enforced in communities of color, affecting trans women of color and black women primarily. 

4. Provide free primary care for LGBT migrants and People of Color. Our liberation clinic, a collaboration between PeaceWork Medical and Phoenix Allies for Community Health, already provides primary care and hormonal care to more than 200 people. This year, we hope to expand our reach so that our migrant LGBT community has access to competent care. tqpueblo.org


Nate Rhoton, Executive Director, one∙n∙ten

I’m going to spend more time with my family. Before the pandemic, I hardly ever saw my mom. During the pandemic, she’s been part of my bubble, and we have dinner once a week. That’s something that I’m going to continue to do because I really enjoy that time and connection. 

Nate Rhoton

I think for the young people who we serve at one∙n∙ten, they are excited to see each other in person. Everyone is missing the ability to give each other hugs. Hopefully, we can keep that in the front of our minds. 

And with the tragedy of George Floyd and other social justice work, we can continue the work that started last summer and not have it be something that happened in 2020. Just because one∙n∙ten is an LGBTQ organization, it doesn’t mean there aren’t areas for improvement. onenten.org


Michael Fornelli, Executive Director, Phoenix Pride

Mike Fornelli

On top of keeping everyone safe and putting an end to the pandemic, my wish for 2021 is that the businesses and organizations that have suffered within our community will find support and assistance and recover from being unable to operate effectively in 2020. I think that everyone is hopeful for what 2021 will bring! phoenixpride.org


Ashley Macias, Artist

Ashley Macias

I want to go into 2021 feeling ambitious in a time when ambition is low. I want to keep creating art. I hope people find more healing and understanding of themselves and go forward with a brighter perspective even though the world has changed around us. We can still navigate around this in useful ways. ashleymacias.com


Ty James Largo, Founder and Creative Director, Awe Collective

Everyone gets a “Get Out of Jail Free” card this year. We all get to have a new start. There is power in that, but it’s scary. We all had a path that we had determined before the pandemic, but now we can do whatever we want. 

Ty James Largo

We need to show up for each other during this time. Take care of other people, and we’re going to be fine. What if we spent our entire day just being rad to other people? It doesn’t cost you anything. Just do it. awecollective.com