Trillium Health formed the ROC Pride Collective, a group of community organizations, with the primary function to bring back the ROC Pride Parade and Festival, after its hiatus. The orgs that were invited, either served the LGBTQ+ community or produced smaller Pride events in recent years. As the largest organization represented, Trillium acted as meeting facilitator and fiduciary. This meant they would engage in fundraising to produce ROC Pride and related events. Committees were formed; co-chairs were elected; and the Collective carried out a successful first Pride season.
In 2023, Trillium met with a small number of the Collective organizations and indicated that they do not have the time, staffing or capacity to truly coordinate an entire Pride season moving forward. Instead, they will fundraise themselves for Pride, dissolving most of the Collective committees and maintaining control of the parade and festival. That small group of orgs were informed that a $55,000 balance remained from fundraising by Trillium under the ROC Pride Collective last year and that these monies would be disbursed soon to the community, as Trillium would be fundraising under themselves or possibly a foundation now. Several Collective members asked for further clarity on the collection of funds for this year, about the foundation, and disbursement of funds from last year, but did not receive sufficient information after numerous questions during the meetings that followed.When several Collective members raised concerns and questions about rolling funds into a foundation, with unknown leadership and decision makers in the body, that plan was allegedly scrapped for this year.
Finally, after additional email follow-up, Trillium informed one Collective member of the tentative breakdown of the $55,000 funds to be disbursed soon this year. That breakdown is as follows:
30% to Trillium Health
25% to Rainbow Seniors ROC
15% to Rochester Black Pride
10% to NGMT
10% to Roar10% to Rochester LGBTQ+ Together
It was stated that Trillium attempted to be equitable and made this decision privately in consultation with the current ROC Pride Collective Chair. A group of organization leaders that both did and did not receive funding in the original plan developed a more detailed, more equitable proposal that would divide these surplus funds between a much larger number of LGBTQ+ community organizations, many of which were excluded from this initial disbursement plan. WAVE, for example, the only local community organization devoted specifically to Trans women, will receive no funding under Trillium’s current plan.
After submitting the new proposal for consideration, it was met with an email from Trillium stating, thank you, but… “Out of respect for the organizations that actively participated in Pride planning in 2022, the funds will remain with the organizations originally identified at the percentages shared. It is not fair to specifically delineate between for-profit and 501c3 organizations when organizations like ROAR were such incredible collaborators for Pride 2022. Sam [Brett] and I agreed that the organizations listed were truly the active Collective participants. If organizations receiving 2022 Collective funds would like to utilize those funds to further support other organizations, that is their prerogative.”
We, leaders representing local organizations that both DID and did NOT receive funding within Trillium’s plan, feel it’s imperative that we bring this information directly to the community that it will affect and whom it is supposed to serve. This plan does not incorporate equity. Of the funded orgs, there is a for-profit business listed, while it largely ignores smaller grassroots, arts and culture, and trans led orgs, as well as events like TDOR, TDOV, the Big Queer Prom. Smaller entities could truly use the additional community and financial support. They continued to do the work during the pandemic and are what truly keep our communities thriving. It was suggested that these choices were based on who participated most in Pride or the Collective or are the most active in the community, which is inherently false. Each of these entities contribute in meaningful ways to our Rochester LGBTQIA+ community through Pride and all year around. The inability to attend monthly Collective meetings, as scheduled, is not an accurate indicator of overall involvement in our community or during Pride. While we recognize the impossibility of creating a perfect plan, why did just few individuals get to secretly determine the disbursement of the surplus funds, rather than the entire Pride Collective itself?
As grassroots organizers, community advocates, and leaders of our respective organizations, we, the undersigned, felt obliged and compelled to unify our voices and issue the preceding joint public statement to raise awareness and ask questions. As trusted, well- respected voices within our Rochester and LGBTQ+ communities, we believe this information should be presented publicly, so that the entire community can ask further questions.
Director, Women Appropriating Visibility & Empowerment (WAVE)
Director, Next Generation Men of Transition (NGMT)
Owner, Blaque/Out Consulting & Magazine
Director, Rochester LGBTQ+ Together
Director, Rochester Black Pride