The Gay Alliance’s 2016 Roc Gay Pride Festival
We Americans are so blessed. Yes, we have major troubles facing our nation, however in the end we are blessed to live in a country where you can express yourself and let your freak flag fly. The Gay Alliance invited me to photograph the 2016 Roc Gay Pride Festival in Cobbs Hill Park this July and it felt so relaxed and inclusive. Even for me, a girl who biked over to Cobbs Hill Park wearing a dress.
Nothing makes me feel so proud and so blessed to be an American than attending the Rochester Pride Festival and thinking back to my travels to Africa this year, where 38 out of 54 countries in Africa have laws saying it is ILLEGAL to be gay. It was on the top of my mind as I photographed the event and I couldn’t help but think back to people I met on my travels who were obviously gay and still completely in the closet, fearing for their lives and jobs. Conversations and experiences popped into my mind all day and I wish they could have been here with me to experience the giant love fest that is the Pride Festival.
The Festival weekend was kicked off with a lot of wonderful introductions and speeches, including Rochester’s first female Mayor, Lovely Warren. It is inspiring to have our Mayor support the event and participate. It sends a signal when leaders are inclusive and supportive.
How did I end up here? Well, easy! One of my past Brides asked me to participate in the art fundraiser and photograph the festival. Jennifer, Austin and I have become friends over the decade since I photographed their Casa Larga wedding and Jennifer has been very inspiring in her support for the GLBTQ community. She is not only a Board member with the Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley but also she took a sabbatical and worked with the Human Rights Campaign to develop a resource guide for pharmacists and pharmacy staff on providing LGBTQ inclusive care and services. That’s not all! Jennifer also worked with HRC to also develop a consumer guide to help LGBTQ patients utilize their pharmacists. Like I said, she is an inspiration!
It was a gorgeous July weekend in Cobbs Hill Park and I ran into a lot of friends past and present, including one of my coworkers from my time as an under grad at RIT! Woah! I can’t believe he even recognized me after these 20 years.
Diana King was the headlining act and it was ah-mazing.
So, where do we all go from here?? With the crazy world surrounding us, thanks to the 2016 Presidential Election, what do we do? How can we keep the love and positivity in our day to day lives? How do we support those in our community who don’t feel cared for or included? How do we keep up with the long list of letters that keep getting added to the GLBTQ community acronym 😉
For me personally, I spent Inauguration Day 2017 donating to a select group of local Rochester Charities including the Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley. It was the only way I could sleep that night. I’m also seeking out new ways to use my photography to bring awareness and activism to the forefront of my life as well as my community. It is literally the least that I can do for my fellow Rochestarians and Humans. If you have a project that you think I would enjoy documenting, give me a holler!
Special thank you to Jenn for thinking of me and including my talents in this fun and important event!