Equality rally encourages unity between social justice groups

Jun 11, 2017

Credit Caitlin Whyte / WXXI News

The Equality march held in Washington D.C. and a number of sister cities around the nation defined itself as a grassroots movement to mobilize the diverse LGBTQ communities to peacefully and clearly address concerns about current political landscapes.

The Rochester Gay Alliance partnered with a number of organizations in Washington Square Park in Rochester for a sister rally Sunday afternoon. President of the Alliance Scott Fearing said its purpose was to build the bridges between various social justice movements.

"Realizing that LGBT folks really cross all identities; we are of all abilities, of all races, of all economic means, we’re immigrants. So we need to be thinking broadly about who are community is."

Credit Caitlin Whyte / WXXI News

Mercedes Phalen helped coordinate the event; she is also the outreach chair of the Rochester Chapter of the National Organization for Women. She said holding a sister rally was important because Rochester is a blended community, and different groups need to support each other.

"As a woman especially during, I know you hear this all the time, the Trump administration, knowing that my voice is going to be heard not only as a woman but a woman of color. Everybody’s voices deserve to be heard and I’m glad that everyone here will get to tell their story."

A number of organizations participated in the rally including Moms Demand Action, Planned Parenthood, the Islamic Institute and Rochester NOW.

The afternoon filled with sun and summer weather seemed to bring out a younger crowd then at most rallies.

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Graciella Simpson is in 11th grade and a member of the Gay Straight Alliance in Brighton, she said she likes coming into the city for events like these.

"It’s really good to see the support, that it’s not just within our little community it’s with everybody so I think that’s important to see."

Also in the crowd were Teagan Sharpe and Wyatt Boice-Pardee. The two 8th graders were holding hands and wearing transgender flags like capes. They were joined by Wyatt’s mom Natalie Boice-Pardee.

"I’m a parent of a trans kid. And I’ve always been an ally but when your own kid comes out it becomes so much more personal. We're here to just feel empowered, be with people who are like minded."

Also announced at the rally was that The Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley is changing its name after 44 years with that title.

Credit Caitlin Whyte / WXXI News

President Scott Fearing said starting this fall the group will be calling themselves The Out Alliance.

"You can be out as an ally, you can be out as trans, you can be out as gay. It really is an inclusive statement about being authentic, about being honest, living in a way that is encouraging individuals to get to know who you are."