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“It’s been an amazing year for the Gay Alliance,” said Executive Director Scott Fearing to the 70-plus people at the annual meeting on May 17.

Fearing said that since the Alliance moved to the new LGBTQ Resource Center last December, and opened its doors in January, “numbers have skyrocketed.” Records show a 1,420 percent increase in client use of the Center. In 2016, 6,124 people came through the space.

Fearing added that in 2016 the Alliance broke even, but “with increased growth expenses also rise.”

Education Director Jeannie Gainsburg started out wearing her “Volunteer hat” and said that her Ride for Pride fundraiser brought in $43,000 in 2016 – as compared to its first year in 2014, when $4000 was raised.

She then put on her “Education hat” and gave information about the LGBTQ Academy, as the Education Program is known. She and Rowan Collins did 275 presentations in 2016, reaching over 10,000 people, and visiting 17 states, in addition to their many presentations in the Rochester area and all over upstate New York.

Anne Tischer, volunteer SAGE coordinator, who also coordinates the LORA group for women, said that in 2016 SAGE events more than doubled and there was a large increase in numbers. She noted that LGBTQ senior population will double in the next 10 years, and is a federally recognized “endangered minority”. SAGE almost disappeared a few years ago, but now is a growing multigenerational group with diverse activities, including rural outreach (Out in the STIX) and connections with local veterans’ groups. LORA was also disappearing a year ago, but it is now a program of the Gay Alliance.

Managing Director Jeff Myers talked about some other Alliance programs, including the very successful Gallery Q, the Library and Archive, the Youth Program (which has multiple new activities coming up) and The Empty Closet.

Scott Fearing presented the Vinnie-Vicki Award to Todd Ranous, a longtime friend of the Alliance, and to Alice Carver-Kubik and Jamie Allen, curators of Gallery Q. Todd and Alice made touching statements about what their work at the Alliance has meant to them.

Vinnie-Vicki Award winners Todd Ranous, Jamie Allen and Alice Carver-Kubik made touching statements at the annual meeting. Some excerpts:

Todd Ranous: When I found out I was going to be a recipient… I thought, what have I done to deserve an honor like this? Why would they choose me over someone else in the community?… But then I thought, what would make me question my worth, my value to my community? … What is wrong? Why do I feel this way?

Then I began to think of the worldview of the LGBTQ community. A world where your parents in Chechnya are given the choice to kill their LGBT kids or the government will do it… Then I re-read the letter that was sent to me from the Alliance… I was being honored for my work with the youth in our community… (A) former foster care youth, who identifies as gay, said to me, “I can’t invite a lot of people to my graduation/adoption/18thbirthday, but I want you to be there.” …

I thought about all of this and realized I do matter, that what I do is important, and what everybody in this room does is important.

Alice Carver-Kubik (speaking also for Jamie Allen, co-curator of Gallery Q):

What we found while working on this project is that Rochester has a rich community with an important history and a bright future. We wanted to be a part of this community and its future.…

(M)anaging the Gallery has been one of the most rewarding experiences of our lives. We both have a passion for art and love this organization and what it stands for. We are so grateful to be able to put our special talents to work to bring art to the Alliance community and bring the greater Rochester community to the Alliance…. We feel that what we have given to this organization is minimal compared to what we have gained. We have a community, a place to call home and life-long friendships. This is not something we can do alone.