LGBT Community


The City of Rochester has a very large LGBT community. Some trace this back to George Eastman, who never married or had any known girlfriends and was subsequently believed by some to have been gay.1 (Either that or he was likely asexual.) By the 1950s Eastman Kodak was said to have a population of gay male employees who may not have been "out" in the way we think of it, but didn't entirely keep it a secret either. Two such individuals were prominent arts patron [WWW]Earl Kage and his partner, Hamilton Driggs. 2

A point of pride for the Rochester GLBTQ community is The Empty Closet, founded in 1971 at the University of Rochester by a student group called the Gay Liberation Front. Today, The Empty Closet is the single oldest continuously-published LGBT newspapers in the world.3 All back issues of The Empty Closet may be viewed [WWW]online courtesy of the Gay Alliance and UR's Rush Rhees Library.

In 1973 the Gay Liberation Front voted to split into two organizations: a UR student group (known as the [WWW]Pride Network since 2002) and a community group called The Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley. The Gay Alliance remains active today as the region's premier GLBTQ organization. A [WWW]full history is available on their website. The Gay Alliance is also responsible for Rochester's annual [WWW]Pride Week, kicked off by the unfurling of an enormous rainbow flag (some three stories long) in the City Hall atrium. The grand finale is a Pride Parade that is the second largest in New York State. The day after is the Pride Picnic, first held in a backyard in 1972. Today it is held in the Genesee Valley Park and hosts an estimated 3,000 attendees. 4

Another historical note is the 1986 election of Tim Mains to the Rochester City Council, making him New York State’s first openly-gay elected official. Prior thereto he had been active in the Gay Liberation Front and had written for The Empty Closet. Rochester City Councilmember Matt Haag succeeded him until stepping down at the end of his term in 2017. Deceased Congresswoman Louise Slaughter was also a staunch ally of the LGBT+ community. Today, NYS Assemblyman Harry B. Bronson is the only openly gay politician representing Rochester and the surrounding region.

In May 2014 Rochester became the third city in the nation to offer transition-related healthcare benefits to transgender municipal employees. When two local shock jocks subsequently went on a hateful, transphobic rant, community outrage was swift and a [WWW]petition (ultimately successful) calling for them to be fired reached 4,000 signatures in less than 24 hours.

According to a 2011 UCLA study, the Rochester area is #6 in the country for numbers of same-sex couples raising children under 18.5 Community profile site ePodunk [WWW]gives Rochester a "gay index" of 161, with the national average being 100. And according to the [WWW]Vocative Queer Index, Rochester ranks as the 8th most LGBT-friendly city in the nation. Albany, Syracuse, and Buffalo were ranked 7th, 32nd, and 34th, respectively.

Most of our LGBT population is concentrated in the southeast neighborhoods of Park Avenue, the South Wedge, the Neighborhood of the Arts, and Upper Monroe. On the west side, there is Maplewood.

    1. Bars and Clubs
    2. Businesses
    3. Events
    4. Organizations - Activism and Outreach
    5. Organizations - Higher Education
    6. Organizations - Hobbies and Recreational
    7. Organizations - Social
    8. Organizations - Trans* Community
    9. Resources
    10. Worship
    11. Other
    12. Individuals
    13. Links

Bars and Clubs


LGBT-owned and LGBT-oriented businesses in Rochester and beyond.


Organizations - Activism and Outreach

Organizations - Higher Education

Organizations - Hobbies and Recreational

Organizations - Social

Organizations - Trans* Community



Religious institutions that welcome and support the LGBT community.


For more organizations and resources, please visit the GVGA [WWW]Resources page.




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2008-07-22 01:42:32   Our parade this year was completely underwhelming, I have to say. It seemed like the majority of the parade consisted of either churches or politicians. There were also few very actual floats! If you want to convince homophobes of how ordinary the GLBT community is, try taking them to the Rochester Pride Parade. They'll be so utterly bored that they'll wonder what in the world they were afraid of to begin with... —MariahBetz

2008-09-18 14:33:26   Learn about GLBT rights, the political process and the 2008 elections tonight at Brighton Town Hall at 7pm. —DaveMahon

2011-11-23 20:51:21   Georgia's, Muthers, Pump and Motor have all been closed now for some time. —Alex-C