Shoulders To Stand On mark

Documentation, Preservation, and Archival Program

The Shoulders To Stand On Program of the Out Alliance is committed to documenting, preserving, and archiving the history of the LGBTQ+ Community in the Rochester region and its impact on New York state and the nation in advancing the cause for justice and equal rights. The STSO Program of the Out Alliance gives credibility to our community and culture. The 9 Program Initiatives provide the opportunities for this to happen.

Anthony Mascioi Rainbow Dialogues


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For more information or questions, contact us at

A Journey From Oppression to Liberation to Equality

Renowned as the city of Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass, Rochester, NY has a long-standing history of being at the forefront of social justice; a strong voice during the abolition movement, civil rights and women’s liberation.

With the spark of the 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York City, Rochester quickly rose to the challenge once again with the birth of the gay rights movement. Beginning with a small group of students and the formation of the Gay Liberation Front at the University of Rochester, Shoulders to Stand On reveals a largely unknown and undocumented history of Rochester’s LGBTQ+ community and its influences across the nation.

Audiences are engaged through very personal stories, a journey that celebrates New York’s oldest gay newspaper, the first openly gay candidate elected to public office in NY, a fight for federal funding, the first city in New York to pass a domestic partnership policy and more recently the passage of same sex marriage in New York.

Experience the stories of courage, sacrifice and accomplishments of those whose shoulders we stand on.

Book a Screening

Cost to screen: Not For Profit: $250 (Includes Presentation/Panel), For Profit $1,000 (Includes Presentation/Panel)

You must provide:

  • Marketing for screening
  • Space to view the documentary
  • Necessary equipment to show the DVD/BluRay
  • Presentation/Panel – Introduction to documentary, brief historical presentation on Rochester LGBT history, discussion with questions and answers.
  • Download a form to book the screening. 
  • Screening Checklist

If you have any questions or specific historical requests please contact:

Evelyn Bailey, at or 585.244.8640

Purchase Film on DVD or BluRay

Visit the Shoulders to Stand On Blog

The premier of the documentary, “Shoulders to Stand On” during ImageOut Festival in October 2013 was an exciting day for the LGBTQ+ community in Rochester New York. It instilled pride in the accomplishment of the dedicated efforts of the many people, working collectively over more than four decades to enact positive social change. The film gathered positive reviews and has gone on to be screened at locations around the country as well as in the Rochester area, including an important screening on PBS affiliate, WXXI. Today, the oral history taping continues with emphasis in three areas: Faith Community’s Advocacy, minority and trans* communities, history of AIDS and the inclusive community response.

The remaining on going task is to answer the following questions:

What purpose does the film serve?

How can it be used to educate various populations, and be a tool for social change itself?

How can STSO be used to turn educated viewers into advocates and actors in the ongoing story of LGBT liberation?

The STSO Library Initiative’s main purpose is to strengthen the capacity of select urban and suburban public libraries in the Monroe County and Pioneer Library Systems to be stronger allies and be a more effective link to the LGBT community through active engagement with the Out Alliance through the STSO Library Initiative.

Questions or concerns please contact: or call 585-244-8640.

About The Shoulders To Stand On Program 7 Initiatives:

The Roots Chronology Initiative digitized the Empty Closet Newspaper, the oldest continuously published gay news­paper in New York State. Completed in 2010. This is an ongoing initiative in which for each Empty Closet issue EC headlines, community resources, notable people, significant events are entered into a data base for easy search. The ROOTS CHRONOLOGY initiative also includes the ongoing Photo Identification Project to identify people, places, events documented by 3400 mostly black and white photographs from 1974 – 2004, and 19,000+ digital images from past issues of the Empty Closet from the mid ‘70’s to 2008.

  • Empty Closet Paper Digitized. University of Rochester Link:
  • Volunteer project to identify headlines, people, groups, events and gay friendly establishments through the Empty Closet Newspaper. Completed 1/2011
  • Continuing: Identify headlines April, 2010 – current by volunteers New Women’s Times Newspaper, 1978 – 1984 digitized. Completed: May, 2013 Link: ‘Browse’ – ‘Jump to:’ – ‘new’ – ‘GO’
  • Each year the next 11 issues of the EC are digitized and uploaded to the U of R site. Every 5 years

The digitized copies will be microfilmed by the University of Rochester for preservation.

Documentation and Preservation Initiative received 3 New York State Archives grants (2009 – 2011) to identi­fy 260+ Rochester LGBT organizations, agencies groups and individuals that set the bar for gay activism and reli­gious tolerance from 1960 to today. 137 were contacted, 80 were surveyed and 15 record collections were placed in permanent repositories.  Details can be found in the 2012 DHP Final Report.

The Out Alliance Archives now totaling 130 cubic feet of organizational and programming materials are housed at Cornell University. 

Recently the Out Alliance has placed 20 cu ft of archival material at the Rochester Public Library Archives.  This material represents collections from local activists, agencies and organizations. 

The Oral History Initiative, audio and video taped, cap­tures the stories, struggles and achievements of our gay pioneers and allies. The 102+ oral histories are the foun­dation of the 90 minute Documentary on the History of the Rochester LGBT community. Oral histories will continue to be collected through audio and video media as history is created. Once archived and transcribed all of these video and audio oral histories will be available on line. STSO continues to do audio tape interviews on the history of the Rochester LGBTQ+ community. You may submit your stories here

The Shoulders to Stand On 90 Minute Documentary Film celebrates the brave men and women who had the courage to step out of the closet, allowing their voices to be heard, in the tradition of a city whose history is firmly grounded in freedom and equality for all. The finished documentary had its World Premier at ImageOut 2013, and was aired on WXXI Public Television in June, 2014. The documentary is offered to community centers, schools, corporations and other social organiza­tions to be utilized as an educational tool with a website resource component.

Writing and Publishing the History of the Rochester LGBTQ+ Community. Successful completion of the Roots Chronol­ogy, the Documentation Project and the Oral Histories Initiative provides the necessary tools for research to write and publish the history of the Rochester LGBTQ+ Community in an organized, efficient, inclusive, and thorough manner. Check back at for updates.

Gay Rochester Educational Resource Website A website has been launched to engage the community in conversa­tions about Rochester’s LGBTQ+ history. The website offers information about the project, promotes opportunities to get involved in the program, and, most importantly, it allows people to submit their stories and/or materials that represent their own LGBTQ+ history. The current website is being updated to be an educational toolkit, providing information, study guides and other resources for churches, corporate diversity programs, and educators looking to include LGBTQ+ studies into their curriculums.

Public Library Initiative provides free screenings of the documentary film, “Shoulders to Stand On” in Monroe County Library   and the Pioneer Library Systems of NY.  The mission of this Initiative is to raise awareness, increase visibility, and inform the general public about an underserved and undocumented population in our community. By building upon the longstanding natural alliances with the local library system, the STSO Public Library Initiative will connect diverse sections of the general population, broaden our geographic reach, and strengthen partnerships between urban and suburban public libraries in the Monroe County and Pioneer Library Systems and hopefully with the Out Alliance.  for the next 2 years, as a part of this initiative libraries have the opportunity to display the Forging Alliance Exhibit which documents the 40+ year history of the Out Alliance, and some of  the AIDS posters from the 6,200 AIDS posters from 124 countries in 68 languages and dialects, donated to the University’s Department of Rare Books, Special Collections and Preservation by retired physician Dr. Edward C. Atwater, M.D., ’50, an emeritus professor of medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

Anthony Mascioli Rainbow Dialogues

The purpose of this initiative is to bring visibility to our history by sharing with the community archives deeded to the Out Alliance.The Rainbow Dialogues is a series of community building conversations demonstrating how LGBTQ history and archival documents from the past are relevant for people today. The Dialogues will reference and contextualize LGBTQ life in Rochester against the backdrop of local and national social justice issues.

The Anthony Mascioli Rainbow Dialogues is an annual event held in partnership with the Rochester Public Library, ImageOut, The College at Brockport, and WXXI

STSO ImageOut Archival Film Series Initiative

The Out Alliance is the permanent repository of  750 ImageOut screening films, and approximately 1,500 personal and commercial videos.  This collection documents the cultural, factual, and fantasy life of the LGBTQ community across the planet.  The Archival Film Series will use the ImageOut films from the first 10 years of the ImageOut Film Festival to provide glimpses of gay and lesbian life made visible through film.  A panel discussion will accompany each film screening.  

Roots Chronology – Completed and Ongoing

  1. Empty Closet Newspaper digitized, Completed 9/2010 University of Rochester Link:
  1. Volunteer project to identify headlines, people, groups, events and gay friendly establishments through the Empty Closet Newspaper. Completed 1/2011 Continuing: Identify headlines April, 2010 – current by volunteers
  1. New Women’s Times Newspaper, 1978 – 1984 digitized. Completed: May, 2013

     Link: ‘Browse’ – ‘Jump to:’ – ‘new’ – ‘GO’

  1. Each year the next 11 issues of the EC are digitized and uploaded to the U of R site. Every 5 years

The digitized copies will be microfilmed by the University of Rochester for preservation.

Our Archives

The Out Alliance  has been engaged in a strategic effort to document the history of the Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender community in Rochester, NY.  The present LGBTQ+ community of Rochester, which is the product of the 1st generation of activism, has had no organized repository to gather its history and the struggle for equality.  Prior to the late 1960’s there were no records other than oral tradition.  To properly document the history of the LGBTQ+ community in Rochester and its influence locally and nationally, the Out Alliance applied for and received a grant from the NYS Documentary Heritage Program to identify and locate the records of any local LGBTQ+ community organization that existed for more than 3 years.

If you have any materials (posters, fliers, meeting minutes, photographs, home movies, etc) related to any LGBTQ+ community events and organizations, please contact the Shoulders to Stand On Project.  Read more about the efforts to save LGBTQ+ historic items download the brochure below, and/or the flier to post and share with others.

Shoulders To Stand On and the Out Alliance express their heartfelt gratitude to DataVault Storage for donating space for the temporary storage of archival material from various LGBTQ+ organizations in Rochester, New York.  If you or your company have record storage needs, we would encourage you to consider DataVault (585- 235-3380) to thank them for supporting our important work.

Your Archives


Help preserve Rochester’s LGBTQ+ history. The Out Alliance is committed to preserving our community’s history.  We need your help!

If you have any home movies, memorabilia, old EC’s, diaries, group or individual archival documents, meeting minutes, photographs, personal correspondence, personal journals, buttons, newspaper clippings, signs, posters, YouTube videos, artifacts, or written, digitized material that helps flesh out the history of the Rochester LGBTQ+ Community, the Out Alliance is very interested in talking with you about your “archives”.

For further information and/or to drop of your archival material, contact Evelyn Bailey at or Gerry Szymanski at

In Memoriam

With Gratitude and Pride –

It is time for Shoulders To Stand On to begin an In Memoriam Tribute to those who appeared in the Shoulders to Stand On Documentary which Premiered in September, 2013. Prior to the Producer’s Premier of the Shoulders To Stand On Documentary at the George Eastman House, the first person in the documentary whose Shoulders were laid to rest was Anthony Mascioli.

We have laid to rest 3 more Shoulders from the documentary – Gary Sweet, Jackie Nudd, and Mark Hull. In some small way Shoulders to Stand On recognizes the contributions each of these men and women made to our Rochester journey from oppression to liberation to equality. They are remembered in the archives of the Gay Alliance, and in the hearts and minds of those whom they knew. Thank you for the life you gave to the Rochester community, and the energy your lives continue to give to those who remember.

Anthony Mascioli

Died unexpectedly Saturday, August 10, 2013

Born December 14, 1930. Died unexpectedly on Saturday, August, 10,2013.
Tony initiated the Shoulders to Stand On fundraising process with his $10,000 challenge grant in 2011. Tony was a colorful and charismatic entrepreneur in New York City. Through his very generous gift that continues to support the Alliance, his ongoing commitment to improve the day-to-day lives of LGBT people so they may live their lives openly and honestly and achieve their dreams will live on.

Gary Sweet

Died suddenly Tuesday, June 23, 2015.

Gary Sweet and the Avenue Pub were institutions on the Avenue. Always inclusive and welcoming, Gary was truly a gay pioneer. Gary’s “shoulders” supported the first HPA “Dining For Dollars” event at Village Gate. For many years the Rochester LGBT community has stood on the “shoulders” of Gary Sweet. Gary’s smile, positive attitude, and words of wisdom will live on in all those he touched. The Avenue Pub will continue to be welcoming and inclusive. But – the Avenue will never be the same!

Jackie Nudd

Died July 24, 2015 in Clarkdale, Arizona

Before moving to Arizona, Jackie was founder and Executive Director of AIDS Rochester, (New York) Inc., served on Gov. Cuomo’s Task Force on Gay Issues, and as president of the Out Alliance, receiving the Jefferson Award from the American Institute for Public Service in Recognition of Outstanding Public Service.

Mark Hull

Died July 29, 2015

In 1973 the Gay Liberation Front at the University of Rochester was asked to leave the U of R Campus because of the predominat non student Rochester community members. Mark was a member of the group and offered space for them to meet in a building he owned at 812 Brown St. Little did mark realize this small group of people would grow into the Out Alliance.

Chapter 1: Gay Oppression, Pre-Stonewall 4:59

This first chapter tries to describe what pre-Stonewall Rochester was like. The Closet was home to many in the ‘40’s, ‘50’s and early ‘60’s. In fact it is home for many even today. Gay culture was invisible. Pre-Stonewall the gay social life was focused on the bars. There were few resources available to help homosexuals understand themselves.

Chapter 2: Rochester Reacts to Stonewall 5:58

Hear a personal account of the Stonewall Riots. Reactions by Rochestarians to the Stonewall Riots was mixed. The ‘60’s provided a ”liberation” environment for blacks, women and gays. The combination of anti-Vietnam War anti-government sentiment set the stage for protests against the social stigma and illegal acts attached to being gay. Gay liberation was a revolutionary idea for many homosexuals. Gay liberation in Rochester began on the University of Rochester Campus.

Chapter 3: Gay Liberation Front, University of Rochester, Speaker’s Bureau 3:15

Within 2 years of Stonewall happening, over 400+ Gay Liberation Front organizations sprang up all over the country. Here in Rochester, two men, Bob Osborne and Larry Fine of the University of Rochester, advertised a meeting on October 3, 1970 at Todd Union to talk about the formation of a Gay Liberation Front (GLF) organization on the University of Rochester Campus. The group became an organization of the University supported by Student Government. The group had an office in Todd Union, began the Empty Closet Newspaper, and began the Speakers Bureau.

The GLF also began the Speakers Bureau. GLF volunteers would accept invitations from professors to speak in their classes about homosexuality. As the GLF became more known, community organizations and schools began inviting GLF volunteers to speak about being gay and to tell their story. Today, the Speakers Bureau has become the Community Outreach and Education program of the Gay Alliance.

Chapter 4: Green Thursday 2:10

In February, 1973 WCMF radio station gave the GLF time for Community Service Programming. The GLF began broadcasting 2 radio programs on alternate weeks at 12 am. “Green Thursday” and “Lesbian Nation” . A primary purpose of both was to reduce isolation among members of the Rochester LGBT community. The majority of the community was still “closeted”. Green Thursday and Lesbian Nation allowed the GLF to provide another avenue of visibility and connection for the community.

Chapter 5: Gay Liberation Dance 2:12

In October, 1971 in celebration of the 1st Anniversary of the Gay Liberation Front, Gay Festival was held over 3 days Friday, October 22 through Sunday, October 24. On Saturday, October 23 the GLF held its first dance in Frederick Douglas Building Lounge. This was an extraordinary event because it was illegal for same sex couples to dance with each other.

Chapter 6: The Empty Closet 4:25

Volunteers staffed the GLF Office taking phone calls and talking, mostly to students, about homosexuality. From the very beginning the group felt a need to have a vehicle of communication that would report on GLF activities around the city and share their thoughts about homosexuality and being gay. The Empty Closet Newspaper became that vehicle of communication and today is still the primary source of information on what is happening in the community, chronicling the successes and failures of gay liberation in Rochester and around the country.

Chapter 7: GLF Leaves U of R Campus, Gay Alliance Begins 4:35

From these beginnings, Gay Liberation became a focal point of political activism. Rochestarians who were not students at the University became involved in the organization, and were the majority of active members. The University stopped funding the GLF because they no longer considered it a student group, run by students. Thus in 1973, the GLF morphed into the Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley.

Chapter 8: First Gay Alliance Picnic 4:09

First Gay Alliance Picnic, July 20, 1973. About 40 people attended in Genesee Valley Park at a time when most Rochester gays and lesbians feared gathering in public. This event, in the open air in the middle of the day heralded great change and new visibility for LGBT people. Supported by Rochester’s gay bars, the annual picnic grew rapidly as a fundraiser and opportunity to bring community together.

Chapter 9: Police and Community Relations 7:26

Special police surveillance of gays had long been the norm throughout the U.S. Police in Rochester regularly raided bars, harassed patrons, and recorded license plate numbers. Following interaction with Gay Alliance representatives, the first police liaison with the gay community was appointed in 1974. Destined to become police chief, Gordon Urlacher proved to be genuinely interested in learning about the LGBT community, their concerns and experiences. This was a major turning point in police attitudes.

Chapter 10: CETA Funding and Controversy 5:18

Economic downturn of the early 1970’s produced the federal Concentrated Employment Training Program to create public service employment opportunities. The Gay Alliance filed a carefully prepared application to participate. Outspoken homophobes worked to see this be the only application rejected. Recognizing open hatred for what it was, Bill Johnson, then president of the Urban League, sponsored the application and saw its funding approved. The CETA controversy received widespread news coverage. After this, all of Rochester well knew that the Gay Alliance existed.

Chapter 11 Rochester Gay Bars 1:36

The decade of the 1970’s saw a blossoming of LGBT social life. During this heyday of Rochester’s gay bars, at least 13 different bars served the community. This decade of celebration and sexual freedom would come to a crashing end early in the 1980’s.

Chapter 12 Rochester Responds to HIV / AIDS 13:09

First reported out of New York City on June 5, 1981 as a “gay cancer”, what we know as AIDS initially felt remote until numbers of sick men came home and the disease spread locally as well. Responding to an overwhelming need, a small group of caring health professionals founded AIDS Rochester, early in the battle against the epidemic. The difficult chore of fundraising to assist the ill and support medical initiatives was undertaken by HPA – Helping People with AIDS. Another new group, MOCHA, organized to assist people of color whom AIDS Rochester could not reach, also appeared. Growing out of a pathfinding University of Rochester clinic, the Community Health Network provided health care at the forefront of medicine as more became known about the disease and effective treatment. Now merged with AIDS Rochester, this new community organization has been Trillium Health since 2013.

Chapter 13: Rochester Gay Pride 4:56

First Pride march 1989 late on a Saturday afternoon, downtown on Main Street. Few people around but no one knew what might happen when the marchers reached the Liberty Pole. From that modest beginning emerged a much expanded, popular parade through the Park Avenue neighborhood each July. LGBT youth actively participate in Pride events and are especially effective when they travel to lobby politicians in Albany. Increasingly, youth come out and identify as LGBT but lack a sense of community and gay history, which Pride can help them develop.

Chapter 14: Plaintiff: Gay Alliance Versus Defendant: City of Rochester 3:01

The Gay Alliance bought its Atlantic Avenue building in 1991, boldly placing the organization’s name on the door. Assumed that any not for profit agency would receive tax exempt status but the city assessor under Mayor Tom Ryan denied it. The Gay Alliance sued and New York State Appeals Court ruled that the organization must receive equality under law and that property tax exempt status must be granted. This landmark decision was the first in New York State and early in the U.S. as a whole, on the topic of government discriminating against gay people.

Chapter 15: Domestic Partnership Legislation 2:43

In 1994 Tim Mains, openly gay councilman, brought to Council the proposal that the City Of Rochester recognize gay partnerships and forced discussion of the topic. Mayor William Johnson saw this as a civil rights issue, the right thing to do, and assured Council that, if passed, he would sign the legislation. Council passed the bill, placing the city of Rochester in the forefront of progressive municipalities nationwide.

Chapter 16: ImageOut Film Festival 5:18

Under attack and censorship in the 1980’s and 90’s, the LGBT community needed to take control of our culture and effectively announce that we exist. In 1992 the Pink Flamingos and Purple Hearts event ushered in Rochester’s Lesbian and Gay Film Festival with all tickets sold out. Soon renamed “Image Out”, Rochester’s annual fall event is in the forefront of gay film festivals internationally. Luring large numbers of LGBT people to gather together and enjoy each other’s company, from its beginning Image Out has also attracted straight allies as volunteers and patrons, expanding and enhancing our sense of community.

Chapter 17: Workplace Equality 7:46

Parity, recognition and equality, the freedom to bring our whole selves with unrestrained creativity to work lies at the heart of workplace equality. While a fearful, closeted environment depresses corporate bottom line, openness and equality positively affects productivity. Significant Rochester corporations such as Xerox and Kodak adopted the policy, fostered internal LGBT groups, and hold management events to educate employees from top leadership on down.

Chapter 18: Marriage Equality 6:55

Beginning with the first LGBT couple in Rochester to seek and be denied, a marriage license, this committed lesbian couple became activists joined by many others striving for years to gain marriage equality in New York State. Support from Pride at Work, an LGBT labor organization, added significant voice and pressure in Albany to pass legislation. Governor Cuomo worked with all involved in this issue over a long process to effect change and increase civil rights and justice in NYS and on June 24, 2011, Lt. Governor Duffy announced in chambers that the marriage equality bill had passed.

Chapter 19: Many Shoulders … 4:31

Rochester’s Gay Men’s Chorus, founded 1982, sings “Over the Rainbow” to conclude this documentary. Long time LGBT activists comment that it is always essential and easier now to find your people, to be yourself. Taking a risk is always worth it.

For more information, contact Evelyn Bailey at

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