Outlandish Videos & Gifts, a longtime staple of Rochester’s LGBT community, will close its doors for the final time on Sunday August 14.
For almost three decades, the store has been a favorite of the community’s as a store they could call their own. It first came onto the scene in the Village Gate as Rochester Custom Leather in 1989, focusing on and selling custom made leather. In 2000, RCL employee Paul Pape took over ownership of the store, renamed it Outlandish and shifted the focus to more LGBT related films (both mainstream and adult) and gifts.
Upon the passing of Mr. Pape in 2001 and after a brief time closed, Outlandish was reopened by Richard Schroedel and Russel Shaner, who transformed the store into a hybrid of all its previous incarnations (video, gifts, leather and more) and increased its presence in the LGBT community, actively involved with local LGBT allies, agencies and organizations such as AIDS Rochester (now Trillium Health), Planned Parenthood, Image Out and The Gay Alliance. Mr. Shaner retired in 2010. Mr. Schroedel passed away March 7 of this year.
“In certain ways, it has been a difficult decision to make,” says current owner Michael Posato, of closing the store. “I know how much the store has meant to our customers and community, its history and the fact stores like this (LGBT themed stores) are so few and far between. But, ultimately, it is a business, and unfortunately, the changing times have dealt a significant blow to businesses like ours. Sadly, there is no competing with streaming media and online shopping when you are a specialty store.”
Longtime employee Robby Morris agrees. “The writing has been on the wall for a little while now but we held on as long as we could especially considering the changes in our market. So rather than wait until our kind of store is completely irrelevant, we choose to leave the party on our own terms and not outstay our welcome. We want to leave with nothing but good memories and positivity, not just for ourselves, but in honor of the store’s legacy and of the people who had their hands in creating it and watching it grow over the last twenty seven years.”
“It’s bittersweet, but we all move on to better things,” says employee Ed Sims. “The greater loss for us was losing Rich (Schroedel) so suddenly,” he continues. Indeed, it was under Schroedel’s proprietorship that Outlandish achieved its greatest and longest success (2001-2016).
“He wasn’t just our employer, but a friend and father figure,” says Sims. “I joined the Outlandish family in June of 2010, having left another successful gift store to pursue my education. As a longtime customer, I was asked several times by Rich to work for him. I was only able to do that and continue school because of his support. His and the store’s presence in my life have not only given me a better outlook on life, but his gifts of knowledge, business and patience towards others is something that’s now embedded into my soul.”
Posato was also affected by Schroedel’s generosity and working at Outlandish. “I first met Rich in 2005. I was working for the Sherriff’s department and expressed to him that I would love to work with him and at the store down the line when I retired. I retired six years later and he had a job waiting for me! He was a wonderful friend and I will always be very grateful for the opportunities he gave me.”
“For nearly twelve years I got to be in the center of our community, work under the guidance of my best friend and be a part of a very special family,” adds Morris. “To work for a business that not only welcomed uniqueness, but embraced and celebrated it has been a privilege. I am extremely proud that even in our own little way we made a difference in people’s lives. We offered them a place where they could shop comfortably with the freedom to express themselves and explore their sexuality without shame.”
“We would like to thank our customers for their patronage though the years and all of the good memories we’ve all had and shared,” says Posato. “It has been a dream job and a great way to get involved and meet people in our community. That is what we’ll miss the most.”
Andy Towle posts on Towleroad.com: FOX News chose to air “a panel discussion about inner city poverty and Donald Trump’s appeal to disaffected voters” instead of a moving DNC speech by Christine Leinonen, the mother of Christopher Leinonen, who was killed in the Orlando massacre with 48 others, Media Matters reports:
On July 27, Christine Leinonen, mother of Christopher “Drew” Leinonen, a victim in the hate crime massacre at the Pulse Nightclub, spoke onstage at the Democratic National Convention to advocate for common sense gun safety laws, endorse Hillary Clinton, and memorialize her son. Leinonen lamented the lack of “common sense” gun safety laws prohibiting the sale of assault weapons in her speech. Both CNN and MSNBC aired Leinonen’s full remarks.
See the video on Towleroad.com or JoeMyGod.com
The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) has learned of the homicide of Dee Whigham, a black transgender woman, in St. Martin, Mississippi.
According to media reports, Dee Whigham, age 25, was found dead at a Best Western hotel on Saturday, July 23rd, 2016. Dwanya Hickerson, age 20, a Navy seaman in training at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi Mississippi, has been arrested and charged with capital murder in connection with her death. Local authorities are considering the possibility that hate was a motive in this homicide. Dee Whigham was a registered nurse, beloved of family, coworkers and patients. Evan Dillard, president and CEO of Forrest Health said publicly, “She will be remembered at Forrest Health as an excellent nurse who was well-loved by her patients. I know Dee will be missed by her co-workers, supervisors, and the Forrest Health family.”
“We are saddened by the loss of Dee Whigham, and send our condolences to her loved ones,” said Emily Waters, Senior Manager of National Research and Policy at the New York City Anti-Violence Project. “The violence that transgender women of color face is rooted in racism, misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia. We need to notice how these biases and violence are present in all of our everyday environments, and then work to change them. This violence will only end when every person takes responsibility to end it.”
NCAVP’s most recent hate violence report, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and HIV-Affected Hate Violence in 2015, recorded 24 reported hate violence homicides of LGBTQ people, a 20% increase from the 20 reported anti-LGBTQ homicides in 2014. Of the 24 reported homicides, 62% were people of color. Sixteen (67%) of the 24 reported homicide victims were transgender and gender non-conforming people. Of the total number of homicides, thirteen (54%) of the victims were transgender women of color.
This is the fifteenth* reported killing of a transgender or gender non-conforming person that NCAVP has responded to this year. Along with Dee Whigham, we have lost Deeniquia Dodds, a black transgender woman (Washington, DC) Goddess Diamond, a black transgender woman (New Orleans,LA), Amos Beede, a white transgender man (Burlington, VT), Mercedes Successful, a Black transgender woman (Haines City, FLA), Reese Walker, a Black Transgender Women (Wichita, KS), Keyonna Blakeney, a Black transgender woman (Rockville, MD), Shante Thompson, a Black transgender woman (Houston, TX), Jasmine Sierra, a Latin@ transgender woman (Bakersfield, CA), Monica Loera, a Latina transgender woman (Austin, TX), Kayden Clarke, a white transgender man (Mesa, AZ), Maya Young, a Black transgender woman (Philadelphia, PA), Demarkis Stamsberry, a Black transgender man (Baton Rouge, LA), and Kedarie/Kandicee Johnson, a Black, gender-fluid 16-year-old (Burlington, IA) and Quartney Davia Dawsonn-Yochum, a Black transgender woman (Los Angeles, CA).
*NCAVP is also looking into the death of Veronica Cano, a Black transgender woman, in San Antonio Texas. As of now there is no known cause of death, however, we are continuing to monitor.
NCAVP is a resource for anyone who experiences violence. For more information, or to locate an anti-violence program in your area, please contact us at email@example.com or visit us online. Join NCAVP in our efforts to prevent and respond to LGBTQ and HIV-affected violence. To learn more about our national advocacy and receive technical assistance or support, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.