Shoulders to Stand On

Shoulders to Stand On

Tue, 06/03/2014 - 8:00pm

WXXI is pleased to present Shoulders to Stand On, a documentary produced by local filmmaker Kevin Indovino that tells the history of the gay community in Rochester through interviews, photos, and stories. Shoulders to Stand On, airing Tuesday, June 3, 2014 at 8 p.m. on WXXI-TV,begins by exploring a not-so-distant past: before Stonewall and before the birth of the Gay Movement. It explores a city at the height of prosperity, a city steeped in history and yet overshadowed by secrets.

Before the 1970s the fear of losing jobs and family kept gay men and women underground, living double lives. Meeting places and local watering holes were constantly under the scrutiny of police: raids and payoffs were common, unchallenged practices of the day. But then, in 1969, the Stonewall Riots would provide the spark that ignited voices across the nation, and the voices in Rochester were determined to be heard. With the insight and courage of a small group of university students, Rochester’s Gay Liberation Movement was born. Their voices quickly propelled Rochester into one of the most progressive and influential LGBT communities in the country.

Inspired by the spirit of a city renowned for the legacies of Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass, Rochester’s LGBT community would set the bar for gay activism and religious tolerance. It would lead the way to put the first openly gay candidate into an elected office in New York State. It would rise to the fight against AIDS, bringing together an entire community with care and education. The Flower City and its corporations would be one of the first to implement domestic partnership benefits and, more recently, it would be a key player in getting a gay marriage bill passed in New York.

Shoulders to Stand On 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.