Defying stereotypes, reaching out: ROC Pride celebrates 46 years

Maxwell Granitz, Contributor, Pink Banana Media
July 17, 2018

In contrast to the five boroughs of New York City and a handful of other locales in New York State, including Fire Island, the upstate region (Albany, Rochester, Syracuse, Buffalo, etc.) is not explicitly marketed as a destination for LGBT travelers, nor for its reputation of being welcoming to LGBT persons, perhaps due to the perception that this region is predominantly conservative. Travelers tend to flock to New York City, perhaps due to a very well-known history of being home to a number of luminaries in the community, as well as a wide array of bars, restaurants, and hotels catering explicitly to LGBT persons.

Upstate New York, however, has played host to a Pride event, that while not as grand as NYC Pride, in its own way has defied stereotypes of the region it calls home. ROC Pride, taking place annually in Rochester, began in 1972 with a small picnic catering to the local LGBT community, and has, according to the official website, “grown into a multi-day event that continues to celebrate queer life and culture in our city” (https://www.rocpridefest.org/history/). This year’s event, which began on Saturday, July 14th and continues through July 22nd, is themed around the idea of standing out.

“Stand Out: [Live] in Color encourages the community to be true to ourselves, find inspiration from icons in the LGBTQ+ community, and utilize every color of the spectrum to highlight individuality and diversity” (https://www.rocpridefest.org/roc-pride-fest/).

Whereas NYC Pride is marketed for its celebrity guests, parties and the ever-enduring March, ROC Pride places emphasis on taking a deep breath, relaxing, and enjoying the simple pleasures that come with life. That is not to say there are no opportunities for attendees to cut loose and dance. A number of events, including a dance specifically catering to LGBT youth ages 13-19, and Pride Fest, a two-day event incorporating multiple forms of entertainment, offer those in attendance the chance to do so.

Perhaps some of the calm that comes along with the event, relative to NYC Pride, stems from the comparatively smaller population of Rochester, and the city’s surroundings… but  it is still home to a plethora of restaurants and bars that would satisfy even the most cosmopolitan Manhattanite, including upscale Lowcountry Southern at The Revelry and landmark gay spot Bachelor Forum. For LGBT families, burger joint The Gate House and the Rochester Museum and Science Center offer opportunities to let the kids enjoy their time upstate as well.

ROC Pride runs through this Sunday, July 22nd. For more information, visit https://www.rocpridefest.org, or call the 2018 Out Alliance at (585) 244-8640.


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