The Shoulders To Stand On Program of the Gay Alliance is committed to documenting, preserving, and archiving the history of the LGBT Community in the Rochester region and its impact on New York state and the nation in advancing the cause for justice and equal rights. The STSO Program of the Gay Alliance gives credibility to our community and culture. The Seven Program Initiatives provide the opportunities for this to happen:

The Roots Chronology Initiative digitized the Empty Closet Newspaper, the oldest continuously published gay news­paper in New York State. Completed in 2010 and updated annually. With the help of the University of Rochester, the Empty Closet can be searched online and will be microfilmed

The Gay Alliance of Genesee Valley New York State Archives Documentation Initiative identi­fied 260+ Rochester LGBT organizations, agencies groups and individuals that set the bar for gay activism and reli­gious tolerance from 1960 to today. 137 were contacted, 80 were surveyed and 15 record collections were placed in permanent repositories.

The Oral History Initiative, audio and video taped, cap­tures the stories, struggles and achievements of our gay pioneers and allies. The 102+ oral histories are the foun­dation of the 90 minute Documentary on the History of the Rochester LGBT community. Oral histories will continue to be collected through audio and video media as history is created. Once archived and transcribed all of these video and audio oral histories will be available on line. STSO continues to do audio tape interviews on the history of the Rochester LGBT community.

The Shoulders To Stand On 90 Minute Documentary Film 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. The finished documentary had its World Premier at ImageOut 2013, and was aired on WXXI Public Television in June, 2014. Watch the Trailer. You may book a screening through the Gay Alliance. Purchase the documentary. The documentary will be offered to community centers, schools, corporations and other social organiza­tions to be utilized as an educational tool with a website resource component.

Writing and Publishing the History of the Rochester LGBT Community. Successful completion of the Roots Chronol­ogy, the Documentation Project and the Oral Histories Initiative provides the necessary tools for research to write and publish the history of the Rochester LGBT Community in an organized, efficient, inclusive, and thorough manner.

Shoulders To Stand On Educational Resource Guide presents information, historical outlines and references, and  YouTube video references on the LGBT history of Rochester, NY captured by the Shoulders To Stand On 90 minute Documentary. This Guide is for use by educators, researchers, students, and the general population in a variety of venues including community speaking engagements, classroom presentations, and corporate diversity training. The documentary has been broken into 19 chapters for use, primarily in educational settings to allow for effective independent use of individual topics for research and presentation purposes.

STSO Library Initiative was begun through a grant from the LGBT Giving Circle of the Rochester Area Community Foundation. The goal of this initiative is to screen the 90 minute Shoulders To Stand On Documentary free of charge in libraries under the Monroe County Library and the Pioneer Library Systems. If you would like to have your library screen the documentary click here ( go to screening pages). For more information please contact Evelyn Bailey at