Tucson Gay City Guide: A Southwestern City of Saguaros and Sunshine

Situated on the edge of the beautiful Sonoran Desert, Tucson is the picture of southwestern beauty. It is the second-largest city in the state of Arizona and the oldest. Tucson is nicknamed the Optics City because of the many optics companies that are located there – but that’s only part of what makes Tucson unique. It also has a thriving visual and performing arts scene, a diverse and eclectic culinary culture, and a vibrant, diverse, multicultural heritage where all are welcomed and celebrated for what they can add to the city. It’s truly a sunny southwestern city with something for everyone.

A Look at Tucson’s History

Tucson is one of the oldest continually inhabited locations in North America – in fact, for at least 10,000 years, people have been living there. An iconic mountain called Sentinel Peak towers above Tucson. Those who look at it from a distance may notice that the base is darker than the peak – the native Tohono O’oodham people who lived in the area also notice that, and called the mountain Ts-iuk-shan, which means “black base”. Spanish settlers arrived in the area in the late 1700s, founding a military fort in the area, and later changed the name to Tucson. For quite some time, Tucson was the northwestern edge of Spain’s Mexican colony and did not officially join the United States until 1854. Shortly thereafter, the Southern-Pacific Railroad arrived in the area, causing a boom in population growth – and Tucson has been growing steadily since that time.

A Few Fun Facts About Tucson

  • Tucson is a paradise for bird lovers. Other than the Amazon Rainforest, Tucson has more bird species than any other place in the world!
  • Tucson has a world-class culinary scene. In fact, it is the only city in the United States (and one of only 18 in the world) to be named by UNESCO as a “Capital of Gastronomy”.
  • Tucson is the oldest incorporated city in Arizona.

Read more fun facts about Tucson here.

Tucson’s LGBTQ Community

Tucson is a city that celebrates its diversity and all that it adds to the community. It is fortunate to have a growing and thriving LGBTQ community which is well supported by many resources, some of which include:

Tucson LGBT Chamber of Commerce

The Tucson LGBT Chamber of Commerce has the mission of promoting the success and the growth of the LGBTQ business community and its allies in the greater Tucson area through education, advocacy, and networking, as well as increased visibility for LGBTQ entrepreneurs and businesses in the Tucson community.

PFLAG Tucson

PFLAG Tucson is the city’s local chapter of the national PFLAG organization. PFLAG is the largest grassroots organization for the LGBTQ community, friends, and allies in the country. PFLAG plays an essential role in providing support, advocacy, networking opportunities, and resources to the LGBTQ community in the greater Tucson area, and across the country.

What’s the Weather Like in Tucson?

It will probably come as no surprise that this southwestern city on the edge of the Sonoran Desert has a dry desert climate. Of course, this means a lot of sun and heat, and very little rain – only an average of 12 inches per year, in fact. Tucson is literally the sunniest city in the United States – with an average of 350 sunny days per year. Summers are typically hot and dry, with the average high in July hovering around 100°, and winters are cool, with the average low being about 39°.

Tucson’s Best Events

Tucson Pride

Tucson Pride was initially founded in 1977, and it is Arizona’s longest-established LGBTQ organization. Every year, Tucson Pride hosts Pride in the Desert, which includes many festivities, including a well-attended Pride Parade, as well as a Pride in the Park Festival. Tucson Pride has the mission of unifying, celebrating, and strengthening the LGBTQ community in the greater Tucson area, and to help build a community of diverse and empowered individuals who can live full, happy, and authentic lives.  

Tucson AIDS Walk

AIDSWALK is a family and pet-friendly annual walkathon fundraiser held in Tucson each year, with the goal of raising awareness and increasing support for those living with or affected by HIV/AIDS. The money raised at the walk benefits the Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation (SAAF), and each year, thousands and thousands of people participate in the walk. You won’t want to miss your chance to join in the fun, too!

Where to Live in Tucson

Some cities have a neighborhood in town that’s generally known as the “gayborhood” – but that’s not the case in Tucson. Not to worry though – this doesn’t mean that there aren’t any neighborhoods that are welcoming to the LGBTQ community. In fact, quite the opposite – it means that almost every area of town would be a good place to live. It just depends on your lifestyle needs and interests. If you’re looking for the area of town with the most LGBTQ bars, restaurants, and events, you’ll want to look at downtown Tucson, particularly in the area around Fourth Avenue. Even if you don’t think you’d enjoy living downtown though, not to worry – Tucson is a highly accessible city, and it’s fairly easy to travel to most parts of town in a reasonable amount of time. There are a wide variety of housing options and price ranges available in the Tucson area. The median home value in Tucson is currently $215,965, and the median price of homes currently listed for sale is $231,250.

Arts and Entertainment

Tucson Museum of Art

The Tucson Museum of Art, located in historic downtown, features western, modern, Latin American, and contemporary art, as well as five historic houses that provide visitors with a unique look into Tucson’s past. An afternoon spent here is sure to be time well spent.

Arizona Theatre Company

The Arizona Theatre Company, also often known as the “State Theatre Company”, has been entertaining, inspiring, and educating the greater Tucson community for over 50 years. More than 130,000 people attend performances put on by the theatre company each year at the historic Temple of Music and Art in Tucson. A wide variety of performances are offered each year, so there is truly something for everyone to enjoy.

Parks and Recreation

Gay Kickball Tucson

Gay Kickball Tucson is a community-based kickball league for the LGBTQ community, friends, and allies. The league is proud to offer a competitive, but fun experience for all players. The league is open to participants of all skill levels – all that’s necessary is a desire to participate, have fun, and make some friends.

Saguaro National Park

Saguaro National Park is a Tucson treasure. The giant saguaro cactus is considered a universal symbol of the American West and is the largest type of cactus in the country. These amazing plants are found in only a small part of the United States, much of which is in Saguaro National Park. You won’t want to miss the chance to spend a day (or a few days!) soaking in the unique and majestic beauty of this magical place. 

Tucson Nightlife


IBT’s is often voted the best gay bar in Tucson – and for good reason. Located on the north end of 4th Avenue, IBT’s is a lively bar that offers three different rooms, two different dance floors, excellent music, strong drinks, and plenty of opportunities to have fun with old friends – or make new ones!


Venture-N is widely known as the most popular leather bar in Tucson. It’s also known for being a very friendly place where all are welcome. Events and theme nights are frequently offered. Visitors can enjoy a game of pool, a good conversation out on the patio, strong drinks by the fire pit, and more.

Contact a Tucson Realtor Today

If you’re ready to make the move to Tucson, you’ll need to find a realtor who knows the community well and can help you find the perfect home in a neighborhood that’s a great fit for you. There’s no time like now to get started. Contact a Tucson gay realtor today for a free, no-obligation consultation!

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