Shoulders to Stand On



The Shoulders To Stand On Program of the Out Alliance is committed to documenting, preserving, and archiving the history of the LGBT 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 7 Program Initiatives provide the opportunities for this to happen.

State of the Project

A year and a half after the Producer’s Premier and the World Premier of Shoulders To Stand On, we are more visible, we are more aware of our successes and our challenges, and we experience on a daily basis how far we have yet to go. Our visibility has been extended to Washington, DC and New York City through the University of Rochester Alumni Relations. Comments after viewing this documentary range from pride, awe, surprise to anger at the unfair treatment of LGBT men and women. We recognize that the battles are not over. We continue to fight for equality and justice until we are ALL free.

The year following the Premiers, Shoulders To Stand On needed: closed captioning; jackets for the DVD/BluRay case; 200 copies of the DVD/BluRay made and mailed; reformatting of some archival materials. By the end of 2013 we had raised $96,500 and our expenses for the documentary and DVD/BluRay copies came to $89,000. Over the next year and 5 months you generously donated another $5,000 to the Shoulders To Stand On Program bringing the total raised for the documentary and program to just over $101,000. During that time Shoulders continued to accept record collections from RATFA, David Emert, Marriage Equality, John Noble, Sue Cowell, and many others. Each of these collections was surveyed and in one case records scanned.   The documentary was also broken into 19 chapters for flexibility of use and convenience. In January, 2015 we had the unique opportunity to interview Dr. Michael Gottlieb who was the first doctor in the United States to identify the AIDS virus. After the cost incurred by these expenses, Shoulders To Stand On has a balance of approximately $6,000.

What does the future hold? We will continue to conduct oral history interviews documenting the contributions made by our pioneers in the areas of the Transgender Community, Faith Community and AIDS. We will continue to accept record collections from members of the community and to continue to archive the Out Alliance records. In July we will submit an NEH Grant to reformat the raw footage from Shoulders and other materials to be preserved at the University of Rochester, and to provide access to those materials by educators, researchers and the general public online. In preparation for the NEH submission Shoulders has been holding Photo Id Days to help identify who, what, where and when for 3600+ Empty Closet photographs from the 70’s through 2009. The Library Initiative, funded by a grant from the LGBT Giving Circle of the Rochester Area Community Foundation, which allows libraries in the Monroe County and Pioneer Library Systems free screenings of the documentary is going well and will continue on beyond its grant year. There is interest in doing an AIDS Documentary to include: documenting the Quilt Workshop organized and run by the Out Alliance to create panels for the Quilt; the Names Project & Quilt coming to MCC and its continued presence in the community through displays at Equal Ground; World AIDS Day celebrations; the AIDS Rembrance Garden; HPA (Helping People With AIDS); AIDS Research and treatment; the Faces of AIDS Exhibit that knew no bounds in terms of race, creed, sexual orientation or gender expression. These and many more contributions of the Rochester LGBT community which provided care, support, consolation and comfort to HIV patients, their family and friends need to be documented. Funding for this will come from grants, foundations, and a few private donors.

As you can see the state of the STSO Program is in motion moving forward. I invite you to share your thoughts, and to volunteer for Shoulders to Stand On Program of the Out Alliance that continues to document and preserve Rochester’s LGBT history.

  • Shoulders to Stand On Documentary

    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 LGBT 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.

    Click to see Upcoming Screenings

    Click to Watch Trailer

    Click to Book A Screening

    Click to Purchase Film on DVD or BluRay

    Click to read the “State of the Project”

    Click here to visit the Shoulders to Stand On Blog

  • Seven Initiatives

    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. Updated annually.  Link:

    • 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.

    The GAGV NYS Archives Documentation Initiative identi­fied 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. STSO Program of the Out Alliance continues to accept document collections for surveying and placement in a permanent repository.


    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. You can glimpse a few of these already at Your Stories on line at STSO continues to do audio tape interviews on the history of the Rochester LGBT community.

    Your recollection of how gay life and culture was is an important part of The Oral History Initiative. Please share your story or your recollection of events on line at: under Share Your Stories

    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 Trailer may be viewed at: You may book a screening at: Purchase the documentary at:       The documentary will be 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 LGBT 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 LGBT 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 LGBT 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 LGBT 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 LGBT studies into their curriculums.

    STSO Library Initiative was begun through a grant from the LGBT Giving Circle of the Rochester Area Community Foundation. The goal of this initiative is to screen the 90 minute Shoulders To Stand On Documentary free of charge in libraries under the Monroe County Library and the Pioneer Library Systems. If you would like to have your library screen the documentary click here ( go to screening pages). For more information please contact Evelyn Bailey at You may also view the brochure on line at

    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 establishmentsthrough 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.

    For more information or questions, contact us at

  • Library Initiative

    The premier of the documentary, “Shoulders to Stand On” during ImageOut Festival in October 2013 was an exciting day for the LGBT 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.

    To learn more about the Library Initiative, see our brochure.

    To Book a Library Screening of the Documentary – click here

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

  • Our History, Your History

    The following videos will give you a glimpse of Rochester LGBT history. By no means is it complete. If you wish to view the 90 minute documentary on Rochester LGBT history and need to purchase it, click here.

    Shoulders to Stand On Preview
  • Our Archives, Your Archives

    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 LGBT 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 LGBT 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 LGBT community organization that existed for more then 3 years.

    If you have any materials (posters, fliers, meeting minutes, photographs, home movies, etc) related to any LGBT community events and organizations, please contact the Shoulders to Stand On Project.  Read more about the efforts to save LGBT 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 LGBT 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 GLBT 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 LGBT 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

    Gerry Szymanski at

  • In Memoriam

    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.

    Over the past 3 months, 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 will be 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

For more information, contact Evelyn Bailey at