Groups like Rochester LGBTQ+ Together exist out of a critical need to provide resources and support to members of the LGBTQIA2S+ community. Our community – globally, nationally, and yes even locally – remains under constant political attack and physical threat. In recent weeks, just locally, a Pride flag was burned in Spencerport, NY; a student was allegedly bullied and attacked for being LGBTQ+ in Holley schools; a hateful, anti-LGBTQ+ letter and bible were left outside at least one Rochester LGBTQ-owned establishment; and a similarly hateful, bigoted letter was mailed to the home of an organizer of Westside Pride in Spencerport, NY.
It is very easy to look at past political successes like the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality, and passage of GENDA in NYS and believe the fight for LGBTQ+ liberation has been won. While we celebrate these significant wins in the fight for equality and progress, we must also recognize that LGBTQ+ individuals continue to face daily harassment, discrimination and bias, simply for being themselves. The LGBTQ+ community continues to face higher rates of poverty, unemployment, mental health issues, substance abuse issues, and more. Our youth continue to face bullying. Members of our transgender, non-binary, and gender expansive community continue to face employment discrimination, harassment, and lack of access to proper healthcare. Our trans women of color continue to be slaughtered year after year. We must protect and defend those most marginalized in society and within our own LGBTQ+ community.
While the parades and festivals are an important celebration of LGBTQ+ culture, Pride was born out of a fight against oppression and for LGBTQ+ liberation. It exists because many LGBTQ+ individuals cannot simply live proudly and authentically as themselves. Groups like Rochester LGBTQ+ Together, Rainbow Seniors ROC, Next Generation Men of Transition, WAVE Women, ImageOut and many more remain essential in publicly and vocally advocating for, protecting and celebrating our Rochester area LGBTQIA2S+ community. We will not be silenced or allow our past or present existence to be erased; we will not go back into the closet and deny our authentic selves; we will not tolerate ignorance, discrimination and hate. We will continue to loudly proclaim our right to exist; fight for freedom, equality, and justice; and celebrate our pride. We need our government officials and community members to continue to show strong allyship, loudly and publicly standing with us in their words and actions. Hate must never prevail.
In Pride & Solidarity,
Braden C. Reese
Director, Rochester LGBTQ+ Together