ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Rochester Pride Week officially kicked off Monday evening with the opening ceremonies and raising of a 60-foot flag at City Hall, with a full slate of events to follow for the week-long celebration.
“When I was growing up, there was no such thing as coming out where I lived," said Ron Schett, who attended the event. “It’s pretty amazing at my age to see people, young people, able to live their lives.”
“We’re the home of Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony – equality is something that matters in this community, and pride is all about that," city spokesman James Smith said. "It’s about taking pride in who we are as individuals.”
There are at least two events happening every night this week, including a bar crawl and silent disco, and concluding with the Pride Fest and parade Saturday.
“This is a group of people who haven’t been able to live authentically, and this is really their week to shine and feel free to be who they are and let their flag fly,” event coordinator Lauren Hearey said.
ROC Pride's mission is to promote unity, to engage all individuals at all stages of their lives to be free, fully participating citizens, celebrating their lives in which they are safe, stable and respected. Pride Week shines a bright light on the local LQTBQ community and these events help to establish a sense of togetherness throughout the region.
ROC Pride started back in 1982, with the first unofficial gay picnic. Nearly half a century later and the event has transformed into a multi-day event that continues to celebrate queer life and culture in and around our city. This year's Pride Week features many events to get you involved in the fun. Here are our recommendations for those interested in celebrating:
10) Pride 5K Run — Kick off the Pride Week celebrations with a healthy start. On Sunday, July 15, runners will take part in a 5K race that starts in Cobbs Hill Park at 8:30 a.m. It's a certified 5K course through the beautiful Cobbs Hill Neighborhood that features a challenging start and a fast finish. T-shirts are given to those who registered before June 19 and post-race snacks are provided. Chip timing is provided by YellowJacket Racing and there will be a presentation of overall and age group awards following the race. Registration begins an hour before the race starts at 7:30 a.m. — but you can also register online.
9) Gayme Night — There will be back-to-back nights of gaming — Monday July 16 at Swillburger at the corner of Meigs Street and South Clinton Avenue, and Tuesday July 17 starting at 8 p.m. at the Bachelor Forum on University Avenue. Attendees are encouraged to stand out loud and proud in their best rainbow attire as they duel in a Mario Kart 8 Deluxe tournament for gift cards at the Bachelor Forum, where even without gift cards you can find great drink deals. Gayme Nights are free to attend, but must be 21 or older.
8) Lux Backyard Party — Although it's not an official gay bar, Lux Lounge prides itself on being LGTBQ-friendly and accepting of all people. Located at 666 South Avenue right in the heart of the South Wedge, Lux will have a backyard party for Pride Week from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Thursday, July 19 featuring Wednesday Westwood and the cast of What the Frock plus music by DJ LCat. Bonus: This event is free to attend!
7) Stand Out on the Town
— Pride Week is teaming up with Rochester Pedal Tours
to bring people to some of the oldest gay and LGTBQ-friendly bars in the city. The bike tours run from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Wednesday July, 18 and will take patrons on a tour to the Bachelor Forum, Avenue Pub, Lux and 140 Alex. All four bars offer great drink specials and welcoming atmospheres. Whether you're soaking up sun on a patio or playing a quick game of pool, there's plenty to enjoy as you pedal from one establishment to the next. Organizers encourage riders to wear their finest Pride attire to emphasize the colorful event. No cost to get into the bars, but drinks sold separately.
6) Pride Kick-Off Beach Party Picnic — Head on down to Ontario Beach Park on Sunday, July 15 from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. for a beach party picnic to kick off Rochester Pride Week. This event is free and open to everyone and anyone who would like to attend. Soak in some sun, dance and even catch a drag performance. The picnic is a fun, family-friendly event at a pavilion by Lake Ontario. Free parking is available in Abbott's parking lot next to the main beach parking lot. Fill up your coolers, fire up the grill and celebrate Pride at the beach!
5) Sassy in the South Wedge — One of Pride Week's annual favorites is back with some exciting new venues. Rochester's historic South Wedge District will transform into a Pride party From 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Thursday, July 19. There's the aforementioned Lux Backyard Party, a Pride Youth Dance — open to kids that are 13-19 years old — and The Good, The Bad, and the Funny will host an open mic for the trans and gender-expansive community at Equal Grounds Coffee House. All of these events are free to attend.
4) Fabulous Lives: Drag in Color
— Drag shows have a rich cultural history in Rochester and on Monday, July 16 from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at Equal Grounds Coffee House, a celebration of that history will take place. Fabulous Lives
will highlight the life of Naiomy Kane, former owner of Muther's bar and the iconic drag mother to many of Rochester's queens. Come enjoy the display of gowns and tiaras, hear stories from local performers and explore the intricate art of drag firsthand.
3) Q-Day at Seabreeze — Pride Week begins in Rochester with a thrill! Join the LGTBQ community at Seabreeze Amusement Park from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, July 14 for Q-Day, a chance to come together for fun, sun, rides, food, water and more at one of Rochester's best family-friendly destinations in the summertime. A ticket costs $34 and includes an all-you-can-eat buffet of hot dogs, burgers, veggie burgers, tossed salad, potato salad, pasta salad, potato chips, ice cream and soda — on top of all the fun to be had on the more than 70 rides and water slides!
2) Pride Party Silent Disco
— If you've never been to a silent disco, this one is worth checking out! It takes place in Cobbs Hill on Friday, July 20 from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Dance into the weekend with multiple channels of music to choose from, that you control with wireless headphones and a flip of a switch. Pre-sale tickets cost $10, and are available online
. Tickets cost $15 at the door. This is Pride Week's first silent disco in Rochester and it's a perfect table-setter for the festival's main event ...
1) Pride Parade — No other day of the calendar year brightens Rochester's streets as much as Pride Parade day. Thousands will line downtown streets with their rainbow attire, celebrating the LQTBQ community, their families, friends and supporters. The parade starts at the corner of Park Avenue and Alexander Street at 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 21 and will end around 3 p.m. at Park and Brunswick Street. Line up for those in the parade will begin at 12 p.m. and the locations will be emailed to registrants independently. Following the parade is ROC Pride Fest at Cobbs Hill until 9 p.m. featuring live music, drag shows, art vendors, food trucks and much, much more. Veterans and kids under 16 years old can get in for free and for everyone else, there's a variety of ticketing options available online.
Come out, support unity and have fun for Rochester Pride Week! These gatherings are just a few of many happening for the week-long celebration — for a full list of events, visit this website