Shoulders to Stand On: Remember Stonewalls Past and Present

By: Evelyn Bailey

Excerpts from article by Michael Robertson, Empty Closet, June 1975

“We have fled from blackmailing cops, from families who disowned or ‘tolerated’ us; we have been drummed out of the armed services, thrown out of schools, fired from jobs, and beaten by punks and policemen.  Straight cops patrol us, straight legislators govern us, straight employers keep us in line, and straight money exploits us. We have pretended everything is OK because we haven’t been able to see how to change it – – we’ve been afraid.”

Out of this intolerable reality and the struggle of all peoples to be treated as human beings was born the gay liberation movement.  It was this month 39 years ago that something unremarkable happened. On June 27, an event which had occurred a thousand times before across the United States over the decades took place.  THE POLICE RAIDED A GAY BAR! The very FIRST public RESISTANCE to overt harassment was demonstrated. The Stonewall Riots mark the conscious organized beginning of the gay liberation movement.  They also mark the beginning of Gay Pride.

For those for whom the Stonewall riots are just a name and for those who have never heard of them, let me try to recall for you what it was like to be gay in 1969?  Gay bars were legal. In 1969, raids on gay and lesbian bars were common. While they were purportedly looking for liquor law or other violations, patrons were arrested and dragged off to jail with no legitimate charges made against them.  The names of those arrested were often published in the papers and many were fired from their jobs as a result..

The Stonewall Inn, located at 53 Christopher St off Sheridan Square, was an private club.  Reputed to be Mafia owned (as were most of the gay bars in those days), liquor was sold on the premises without benefit of a liquor license. This and Mayor Lindsay’s re-election promise to clean up the undesirable riff-raff made it a perfect target for the authorities. On Friday evening June 27, 1969 at 3 a.m., eight plainclothes officers raided the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village.  Employees were arrested, and customers were allowed to leave one at a time. Customers left in an almost festive mood, striking poses, swishing and camping. They had been through this before. Then there was a sudden mood change when the paddy wagon arrived and the bartender, doorman, three drag queens and a struggling lesbian were shoved inside. There were cat calls and cries to topple the paddy wagon.  Once the paddy wagon left the police moved quickly back into the Stonewall Inn and locked themselves in. The butch lesbians and drag queens fought back. The bar patrons threw bottles and rocks at the police. They chanted, “Gay Power!” and “Liberate Christopher St.!” One person threw a rock through a window and eventually garbage cans, bottles, and even a parking meter were used to assault the building. New York’s Tactical Police Force arrived on the scene. The crowd was disbursed.  Later that night and into Sunday morning a crowd again gathered in front of the ravaged bar. Many young gay men showed up to protest the flurry of raids, but they did so by handholding, kissing, and forming a chorus line. “We are the Stonewall girls,” they sang kicking their legs in front of the police. “We wear our hair in curls./ We have no underwear./ We show our pubic hair.” Police cleared the street without incident this time, but protests and public outcry against this injustice went on for 5 more nights.

In Rochester, inspired by these events, several members of the University of Rochester community proceeded to organize a gay group for students, faculty, and staff.  On October 3, 1970, the Gay Liberation Front was born, and when the group split into students and community members, the Rochester community members formed the Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley in December, 1973.  In 2017, the Gay Alliance changed its name and the Out Alliance was born.

We will find strength in REMEMBERING.  We will together RAISE our voices. We will continue the FIGHT to be free.  We will ROC the foundations of oppression!

New Playboy Club in NYC Looking to Support the LGBT Community by Merle Exit

Playboy bunnies are back at the new Playboy Club in Manhattan and it’s not just for an Easter celebration.  An insignia lies atop an awning at 512 W. 42nd Street.  “What are you here for,” says a man that looks like he could be a bouncer.  Unless you are a member, or have a dinner reservation, you take your chances about indulging in an elegant evening.  

Monday evenings bring New York’s rising Broadway stars and vocalists onto the stage to do their own thing rather than perform songs from the show that they may be presently in. Produced by Beau Speer with Music Direction by Brandon James Gwinn & the T-Shirt Tuxedo Trio, Anne Fraser Thomas was the very talented featured vocalist.  

Speer said that they are planning a lot of events for world pride, which says that this Playboy Club is open to the LBGT community. He is also looking into doing a Drag brunch and other charity events.

Having said that we had dinner reservations, we entered into a Playboy Bunny decorated hallway that led to what appeared to be the main lounge with a center bar.  There was a private party in progress and we told the maitre d’ that we were having an early dinner.

Escorted into the next room, I saw a few areas of seating.  One area was reserved for the earlier entertainment, with little seating.  There were two intimate type rooms on the same level, separated by a middle wall that had an aquarium of colorful fish and a bunny rabbit insignia object in the center.   I wanted that table and sat facing the aquarium. Although not close up to the action itself, I had a view of the entertainment in the lounge. There was also another seating area located on the viewing side of the lounge situated a few steps up.  I was able to view another large room in the back, most likely used for private parties.

Table setting was done elegantly the way you would expect a “fine dining” décor to appear.  Lighting was low, which for me made it a bit difficult to capture clear photos with my “point and shoot” set on “auto.”   Next time, I will actually study the information in the book.

We were greeted by a Playboy Bunny cocktail waitress, Bria Fleming. As much as some of the cocktails sounded yummy, I decided to pass since I get drunk on Scotch Tape.  Our waiter arrived promptly to ask if we wanted tap, still or carbonated water.

Executive Chef Tabitah Yeh has created food that should be nurtured to appreciate how they wonderfully affect your eyes, aroma, and palate with a menu divided into categories of Plates to Share, Sushi and Sashimi, Salads, Mains, and Sides.  

Being a true chocoholic, the Manjari Chocolate Gold Bar left me euphoric. Yes, there are gold flakes on the top as well as some kind of crispies, hazelnut, and strawberries on the side that are both large and sweet ($15).  

If you want to go on the lower end of your bill just to get an idea of the quality and sharing, I would suggest the following: Two Arctic Char Tacos for two people, I would suggest, with Goma Miso, Wasabi Aioli and cilantro, each at $8.  A Spicy Bluefin Tuna Roll ($15) and sharing a main of Chicken Milanese with Frisée, Baby Carrots, Shaved Fennel, and Radish ($36), or the Roasted Atlantic Hake, with charred scallions, “Tom Yum” and golden Enoki (mushrooms that are thin, tall and delicate) for $37.  Hake is the most common fish used when you buy Boston Scrod.

Playboy Club has quite a long beverage menu that includes wine, beer, spirits, top of the line sake and cocktails concocted by a mixologist.  Here is one, called A Bunny Thing: Bacardi Cuartro Anejo Rum, Rockey’s Green Chartreuse, Pineapple Bitters. How about Call Me: Ketel One Botanical Cucumber-Mint Vodka, Don Julio Blanco, Canton Ginger, Mint.  

There are various nights of live entertainment, some of which you have to become a member and present your key.  If you go to their website, you can get some of the information, but not all. I found some that needed clarifying and was not up to date. That’s what phones are for (212-644-8227).

NYC Pride & Stonewall at 50: A Revolution For Rights & Revelry By: Stephanie R.C. Harageones

It seems impossible that it was half a century ago when the gay rights movement began as an uprising that kick-started a revolution.

For those of you who aren’t immediately familiar with my topic, the Stonewall Riots occurred in the summer of 1969, when the Stonewall Inn, a well-known gay bar in Greenwich Village, was raided by police in the early morning of June 28th. The patrons bravely fought back, sparking a brawl that lasted for the next several nights. Within weeks, people began to come together, organizing as a cohesive group, and thus started the “Gay Liberation Movement”: which we of course know today as the LGBTQ+ Rights Movement. The very first Pride March took place the following year on June 28th, 1970 in New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Chicago, and they’ve continued ever since.

It seems befitting for New York to cement their history of being gay-friendly and open to a marginalized group. The City is a melting pot that welcomed people from so many diverse backgrounds, and in the 1950’s and 60’s, the world was still a hostile place for LGBT Americans. While they weren’t put to death as often as in the past; once outed, anyone who was LGBT could still be institutionalized, forced to abandon a career in the limelight, or be cut off from their families or society altogether.

After five decades of relentless activism, this June New York City is celebrating through dozens of amazing Pride-themed events. Among many (many) others, one of the biggest events is the World Pride Opening Ceremony on Wednesday, June 26th, which is touted as a month-long celebration. Some events are more focused on our agenda, like the politically-oriented Human Rights Conference, which is on the 24th & 25th, to discuss worldwide LGBT rights. Some are more fun, like the CosPlay and Pride party on the 22nd. There are also family-friendly options as well, like the Family Movie Night on the 21st. One of the biggest events will, of course, be the Pride March on June 30th. And on June 28th, they’re holding the Stonewall 50 Commemoration Rally for free!

While our lives today are far from perfect, things have improved tremendously because we, as a people, have organized and fought back time and time again. We’ve encountered decades of vitriolic heterosexism, incredible odds, and staggering everyday discrimination that is by no means over. Yet, we have more rights than ever before, we have more representation than ever before, and we’re less marginalized than we’ve ever been before. Heck, we even have a top-tier gay candidate for President! (Sidebar: Go Mayor Pete!) So while we still have so far to go, it’s time to come together and commemorate how far we’ve come…and have some fun along the way!

 

For Orlando by Gracen Lynch

It’s not hard to stand in the dark.

We have learned to see one another

faces, bodies, movement

the flow of sexuality and connection

that so fluidly passes from one man to another

one woman to another

one person to another,

often in silence

and in secret

as if we were building a kind of love

not intended to be noticed by others,

by fathers, by mother, by gods.

 

I feel the day hunting me,

trying to find me and my friends

where we are,

dancing in the dark,

dancing as I have my whole life once I learned

there was love in the shadows

that shadows are not only for monsters

and that the dreams in me

– delicate, colorful, fragile in a way,

dreams that know so well

how a butterfly emerging

from the long journey of losing itself,

and cannot receive help from anyone,

until it is ready –

those dreams of mine

refused help, instinctively,

because they knew that love from the outside

is so often a gun

whose bullets only know how to say  

that there should be no butterflies in this world.

 

My dreams took a long time

to be aware of themselves,

aware of the secret place inside

where love comes from,

flowing into my life

just like the mystery

of blood filling wings, changing

what was soft and new and opaque

into something hard and experienced and clear.

 

Perhaps God put us here

to learn our dance from the inside,

looking to others, so shyly at first,

not wanting to be seen watching.

 

On the floor, in the dark,

pulsing together, as one people

our bodies full of joy and power and rage and fucking and sadness,

speaking to each other in that hidden way we know –

a way that 50 years later is finding

its own wisdom, its own intelligence, its own faith –

our hearts in every moment of our lives

are working

to weave the blanket of our pain and our culture,

now arriving at the end of its sleep

where it has hung so still and innocent

in the crisp air of becoming.

We are emerging as a people,

transformed as surely as any other miracle

by energies far beyond

that we are only now coming to fully know.

 

Always there has been a voice in me

that grew from the realization that I had only the night

to be safe with.

As a boy, I heard the Levitical Bell,

that terrible note that I can never unhear,

naming me, Abomination.

That culture of cruelty

has raised ten-year-olds into adults

who exchange their lepidopteral entitlement

of long-handled nets and ball-pointed stick pins,

for bullets,

and media,

and a worship starving for its own shadows.

 

The day is hungry like a rabid dog

thirsty for darkness and fearing the darkness. .

The entitlement grew up with them,

like the lessons of the old boy scouts

now carried into adulthood, only

this merit badge was about

the perfection of the skill of

walking right into a bar

and shooting the darkness in the back.

 

Remember what we used to call people

back in the pioneer days

who shot others in the back?

 

I listen to the house music,

pulsing with the rest.

Part of the rhythm I feel in my own life,

now that I am older,

is the aim of the barrel at me,

a hatred I can feel more than see.

 

But part of the strength of the butterfly

is to emerge in full view of the gun of the day,

and to leap off into the dark empty

and be carried by winds,

somehow able to survive

on a grim kind of mercy,

or die with courage and bewilderment every time

the day must express itself,

take its measure of the world once again

at a safe distance

by squeezing the trigger.

 

Our people are older now. 50 years strong.

We dance, not because we have to,

not because there is any danger of the night disappearing,

and not because whatever it is in us

that is dreaming its way into the world

will leave. No.

We carry that dream, that sometimes yet-inarticulate love,

into the world.

Again and again, eternity bears my siblings

into this pocket of time and, again and again,

humanity reaches in absently

and pulls out the lucky penny of our gifts and our talents,

surprised, and wondering

where that came from.

 

Because people still don’t know what money is.

How could they when they don’t know the value of anything

or anyone else?

They would have to learn what it means  

to be born into the pocket of the world

among the clouds of dark lint and forgotten candy.

Of course, most things in pockets are thrown away

or placed somewhere else,

by someone else,

to do something else

FOR them. Every entitlement has to find a home

or else it wanders the streets with a gun,

mad as hall.

 

The steady hand drives the colored pin

into that beautiful wing

because beauty

a beauty so blinding it scares some,

is so much better pinned down

and dead, and where the curious can keep an eye on it.

Dead things are so much easier

to keep an eye on, right? I get it.

 

But all the forgotten things,

all the pennies,

all the lost sweetness our parents,

churches, and neighbors,

that people have forgotten about

in the forest of growing up,

all the discarded bits of this world,

they find their way here

onto the dance floor,

and we make room for them.

 

Eventually they catch the beat,

our wordless smiling bodies teaching each other,

and strengthening one another.

 

We know the day will come for us again,

perhaps again and again,

like a promise made by a terrible God, because

that is what the day always does.

 

It lives to kill the night.

 

In our time, the day has come with guns

because in our time,  

light is lost in a dream

that thinks it will find its way home

only by breaking the night.

 

But here together,

moving as one,

as who we are, emerging and beautiful, I can say,

that we are not broken,

and we are not lost.

 

We are together.

We are the night.

We are eternal, and,

by God,

we are dancing.

 

Remembering the Pulse Shooting, Three Years Later

By: S. Brae Adams, Pastor, Open Arms Metropolitan Community Church

Sunday morning, June 12, 2016, 7:30 AM.  I awoke to get to my job as the Pastor of Open Arms Metropolitan Community Church.  Checking my phone before getting out of bed, I saw the first little bit of the news.  At least 12 people dead, more feared at a mass shooting in an Orlando bar. How terrible, I thought, and I made note of the name of the place, Pulse nightclub, to mention in prayer as I went about the business of getting ready for my day.  

I arrived at Open Arms and began to prepare.  As the worship team gathered for prayer before the service began, I mention the shooting and someone says it was a gay nightclub.  Just then, the processional begins and I think, “Oh God. Not us again…”

“Not again…” Metropolitan Community Churches, founded for LGBT folks in 1968, a time in which they could not openly attend other churches.  We have had multiple incidences of violence including at least 20 separate incidences of arson or fire bombing and – what was before that day the largest mass murder of LGBT people in the United States- the intentional firebombing of the Upstairs Lounge in New Orleans.  That fire in 1973 killed thirty-two people, including both pastors and fully one half of the congregation of MCC New Orleans, which was using the bar’s meeting space for services. We know about bigotry and hatred and attacks on the innocent.

Worship began and I felt my phone vibrate, just as I was getting up to pray.  I glanced down and felt the room start to spin, “Police estimate that at least thirty people have been killed …” The room fell quiet and very still as I announced what I had just seen on the screen.  Gasps and cries were audible and our pianist started the next, already planned hymn, “It is Well With my Soul…” We held each other and cried and prayed and then gathered ourselves and went back to the task at hand.  After church, my phone began to buzz with community members looking for a place to gather, to stand together, to mourn. By 2:00, a plan began to take shape. The LGBT liason for the Rochester PD phoned, as did a representative for the mayor’s office – how could they help us feel safe… well, as safe as possible…

At 6:00, the church began to fill, and by 6:30 we began to bring in extra chairs that were quickly filled.  State Assemblyman Harry Bronson and Brighton Town Supervisor Bill Moehle were among those who gathered. People kept coming sitting on the floor, the stage, or standing in the back, some folks spilling out onto the sidewalk in front, or in the doorway to the community center. For 30 minutes we simply sat in silence with only the light and whir of the television cameras and then, finally, we lit our candles.  When the candles had burned down to the paper, a beautiful soprano voice started to sing, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound…” The last notes of the song floated into the air and, wordlessly, everyone away into the night.

There would be more vigils and gatherings and remembrances in the days and weeks to come.  Photos of the dead were carried in the Rochester Pride parade and again in the Puerto Rican Festival parade later that summer.  The outrage and sorrow and fear has been tempered by time and the news of more frequent, and more deadly shootings around the country. The club site in Orlando has become a memorial to what happened there; the funerals are long since over, the news reporters left long ago, but we remember.  We remember the 49 innocent people, out to dance and mingle and laugh who never made it home. We will not forget.

 

A New Clothing Line Defies Gender Stereotypes That Limit Boys

By: Kerstin Shamberg

Where can you find a shirt for a little boy with a unicorn on it? Answer: You can’t.

Four years after moms Rebecca Melsky and Eva St. Clair launched Princess Awesome to bust gender stereotypes, giving girls clothing options that honor the full range of girls’ interests – trains, dragons, math, and more –  they’re tackling the other side of the children’s clothing store with Boy Wonder, a line for boys.

“My son always tells people his favorite color is ‘rainbow.’ But shirts with rainbows or even just bright colors are only in the girls’ section,” co-founder and Princess Awesome Chief Creative Officer Eva St. Clair said. “As a parent, I think it’s important for his development to encourage him to embrace what he loves rather than force him into a narrow definition of masculinity.”

With five sons between them, St. Clair and Melsky are well-acquainted with what boys want to wear and the range of topics they’re interested in. “My son loves to play tea party and make-believe games with his sister. He loves cats and looking for rainbows after a storm. I’ve never met a boy who doesn’t like those things,” Melsky notes. “Those are things all kids love. They should be on all kids’ clothes.”

 

Melsky and St. Clair collected survey responses from over 4,500 parents, asking what their boys like to wear, and what they currently cannot find for them. Many parents want clothing that helps communicate to their sons that their gender does not limit their interests. As Dr. Christia Brown, a professor of child psychology and the author of Parenting Beyond Pink and Blue, explains, “The ripple effects of this can be profound: a boy who is affirmed and allowed to be his authentic, unique self grows up to be a man who is comfortable expressing himself, who can embrace those interests and traits that make him unique. Allowing young boys to embrace a variety of interests helps them grow up to be happier, healthier adults.”

This style of parenting is a strong counter to the cultural pressure of toxic masculinity – suppressing emotion and eschewing anything considered feminine (and therefore weak and inferior).  Rather than pushing them away from what has been viewed as traditionally feminine, these parents are encouraging their sons to take a view that those things are compatible with – indeed, a desirable part of – having a male identity. “Boy Wonder directly supports this sea of change,” said co-founder Rebecca Melsky, “The clothing communicates to everyone who sees boys wearing it that all the colors and all the topics are for both boys and girls.  It’s a completely different message from mainstream gendered clothing that relies on stereotypes.”

Boy Wonder will begin production with a line of seven shirts and two pairs of pants that will include colors and themes currently lacking in the boys’ department: cats, unicorns, rainbows, pink, flamingoes, purple, and sparkles.  Made of soft fabrics, with deep pockets and reinforced knees in the pants, the line is designed with active children in mind.

“When people see a girl wearing our dinosaur dress, they often ask her about her interest in dinosaurs,” Melsky notes, “and that subtly encourages the girl’s native interest in dinosaurs and science.  Our hope is that when people see boys wearing pink and rainbows, the conversation for those boys will also change to one that affirms the broad range of boys’ interests – not only that they themselves find value in them, but that we adults do too – and chip away, just a little, at the societal norms that breed toxic masculinity.”

 

Pre-orders can be placed now at  boy-wonder.com and the store officially opens in October 2019.

 

Instagram: @boywonderbrand

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/boywonderbrand/

Twitter: @boywonderbrand

Website: boy-wonder.com

Out In Buffalo Community Profile: Jon Jon Cooper

Where are you from & where do you live? Why do you call that place home?

Born and raised on the eastside of Buffalo, NY. I’ve since relocated to what we call “The Elmwood Village” in Buffalo. It’s a bit safer. All joking aside though, I call Buffalo home, and will always call Buffalo home, because of its rich tradition of family and the many different cultures that are present.  From the Bills Games, to Juneteenth Festival, Buffalo is blessed to be a city of diversity and talent. It is cold the majority of the year, but as a city we have always made the most of living in the snow capital.

 

What kind of work do you do at Pride Center?

Currently, I have the pleasure to serve in the capacity of a Community Health Specialist. In my position, I work with men who sleep with men between the ages of 13-29. My main objective in this role is to provide the young men I work with with CULTURALLY COMPETENT intervention, and access to any needed service. For far too long, marginalized communities, specifically gay men of color, have had fear-based messaging shoved down our throats, and it hasn’t been effective. Our team works around the clock to meet our community members where they are. We need to educate and engage whenever we can. I’ll do outreach and provide testing in a bathroom if I have to!!!! I’m here to be a part of the generation that stops the rapid spread of HIV.

 

What else do you do to serve the community?

Six years ago, a group of close friends and family noticed a need in the community. Not just in Buffalo, but in all of Western New York. It was clear to us that the gay, lesbian and Trans communities of color weren’t welcomed in bars, clubs, or even organizations that targeted the LGBTQ+ communities. In addition, if we were “allowed”, we were tolerated, not treated with respect. The poor treatment of people of color, coupled with refusals to play Hip Hop and R&B music, fueled us. We joined forces with a power team from the Cleveland/Akron Ohio region and developed Bad Boys Club Marketing & Entertainment. Created to give Gay, Lesbian, and Trans people of color access that was never offered before – ACCESS. Access to quality events

 

What’s your theme song?

It really depends on the mood I wake up in that morning. If I had to choose, I would say either Kanye West – Champion, or Hezekiah Walker – Grateful.

 

What’s a quote that you live by? 

The quote that I live by, and have lived by since exposed to it, is an excerpt from a poem by Rudyard Kipling.

“… If you can walk with crowds and keep your virtue, or walk with Kings nor lose the common touch, if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you, if all men count with you, but none too much; if you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth a distance run, Yours is the earth and everything that’s in it, and which is more you’ll be a man my son.”

 

Why is the work you do so important?

The work I do is deeper than what it means to me. Working in community health, one of the first things that you learn is that it’s not about you. The clients that I serve, and their needs, are what’s important. Someone has to be a voice for those who don’t know just how to protect theirs.

 

Something people don’t know about you? 

I’m pretty much an open book. However, my dream, that most people may not know of, is to be the first black openly gay Mayor of Buffalo.

 

Are there any upcoming projects or events you’d like the community to know about?

Come check me out at the Pride Center of WNY. We have a jam-packed summer full of events.

Gallery Q presents Fire & Transformation:

Rochester, NY – May 14, 2019 – Fire & Transformation, new work by Rochester based artist, Mark Groaning continues at Gallery Q though June 20. Stop by the Gallery on First Friday June 7 from 6:00-9:00 and enjoy art and light refreshments.

Mark Groaning’s mixed media creations include painting, glass, acrylic and steel. Each piece evokes sensations of energy, flight and motion such as, swimming as a fish, swaying with ancient trees or flying on fire hewn wings of steel. His works are derivative of his dreams and visions, resulting in sculptures of raw emotion, experiences and rustic imagery.

Groaning states: “I am transfixed by the mesmerizing motion of hundreds of birds in flight and large shoals of fish. How they move as one swirling, pulsating entity; expanding and contracting. The sensation it generates. It’s electric. That is what I strive for in my work. A rush of excitement or calming introspection. Thought provoking imagery that transports, energizes or relaxes the viewer. It’s all about movement. How the sculpture moves; How the viewer connects to the movement.”

Preview of “Hamilton”, One of the Most Anticipated Shows of 2019! 

The Empty Closet sat down with RBTL Executive Vice President,  Linda Glosser, to get a preview of “Hamilton”, one of the most anticipated shows of 2019! 

OA:  What is your role with the RBTL and what does presenting Hamilton mean to the organization?

LG:  As Executive VP at RBTL, I get to work with all of our departments within the organization to help deliver on our mission.   Presenting Hamilton means all of the best outcomes we could hope for as a touring Broadway market – a multi week engagement with significant economic impact results for not only the theatre, but also for local businesses and individuals.    To be able to provide access for our audiences to this most remarkable show right in our own backyard is significant to us as well.

OA:  Why did RBTL and Presenter Albert Nocciolino feel it was so important to bring this show to Rochester?

LG:  This show, perhaps more so than any other show before it, has the ability to ‘ speak’ to such a wide array of people – both Broadway die-hards those audiences that do not traditionally consider themselves Broadway fans. Through music and dance, the story is told in a style and manner which is relevant and accessible. That is important to us; it helps create brand new theatre goers who may realize that “ Broadway” may mean something different than they may have previously thought.

OA: Is the overwhelming response for tickets what you expected?

LG:  Yes, the response has been overwhelming and very exciting. Rochester has been a buzz about this show since we announced it almost two years ago now. We saw a huge turnout for our on-sale here at the theatre and online at Ticketmaster.com We did a lot of work in advance messaging prior to going on sale to help people purchase tickets from authorized sources – either at the theatre or from Ticketmaster. As always, we encourage our patrons to triple check the site at which they’re buying their tickets from to avoid the secondary ticketing market.

OA: On a personal note, what is YOUR favorite thing about this show?

LG: The fact that the show brings to life the compelling and emotional stories of  remarkable individuals, who were  previously known to me, perhaps to most of us, only through high school history books, which offered very limited perspective and representation.

OA: What should audiences watch for or pay special attention to?

LG:  Listen to the cast recording before you go!  The first 10 minutes or so really will inform the listener about Alexander Hamilton’s early life, which is so important in establishing a baseline for comparison to his eventual extraordinary accomplishments.

OA:  What should audiences expect to leave with?

LG:  Multiple song bites that you will NOT be able to get out of your head, a cast recording, and a plan to come back to see it again.

 

 

 

A Year In The Life By Lundon Knight

The year of 2018 was quite the experience for me. Not only did I do so much that I never thought of being capable to do but, I’ve learned a million and one things about myself that’s helping to grow and become the person I intend to be each day. It’s never easy being a queer person of color but, it strengthens me to believe that doing the impossible is quite possible. Looking at my future, I’ve decided on what I wanted to do with my life and that’s being apart of the film industry. 2018 was my final year in high school and capstone projects were being put together. I had no idea on what I wanted make my capstone project about until I did. It had to be something that was truthful to me, but also something that could support and inspire a whole community, and that’s when I decided I wanted to create a film on the LGBTQ+ community and what it meant to me. My film was titled, “Beyond Truth”, a story about two boys figuring out their sexualities while dealing with the outlooks of their families but also their love for each other. My first coming out story wasn’t the best as it all was unexpected, but creating this film and premiering it front of a crowd of other people who could relate and be inspired by my story, gave me a chance to look at myself and not be ashamed of who I am. It was a good feeling to have and since the premier of this once in a lifetime film, I have embraced myself to the fullest of truth. It wasn’t something I was able to do alone though. It was a process and during this process, I needed support. My queer family gave me a place where I could be honest with myself. Attending my very first Rochester Black Pride Festival, was that place. I got to surround myself with a community who understood me and accepted me for who I was. They gave me an outlet when I needed one and forever I will always be grateful. It was also helpful to have my best of friends apart of this process. I didn’t feel so different when I was around them. Now that I was out, they didn’t make me feel like things had to change and it was a relief knowing that I still had them in my corner throughout it all. My family was my rock in all of this. Before anyone’s approval, theirs was the most important. They learned to embrace me and love me the exact same no matter what I was figuring out about myself. They didn’t judge me for being a queer man, they stood by me. They fought for me and still, they’re fighting for me and without them, my embarking on my truth would have been unendurable. In 2018, I created a film, embraced myself, applied to a bunch of film schools and gave myself a chance to have it all. Now being three months into 2019, I’m ready to grasp on to everything and more that the world has in store for me. I’ve learned from myself that if you have a light, let it shine because you never know when it’ll burn out.