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ROC Pride events mark 50th anniversary of Stonewall uprising

April Franklin
Avenue Pub participates in 2019 ROC Pride Parade

It has been 50 years since the Stonewall uprising in New York City, and over the weekend, the Rochester LGBTQ community and its supporters participated in the annual ROC Pride parade held Saturday on Park Avenue, while also honoring Rochester’s own gay rights history.

The Stonewall Inn was a gay bar in Greenwich Village where a police raid sparked a rebellion that fueled the modern LGBTQ rights movement.

Tanya Knope's father Gary Sweet, opened The Avenue Pub in 1975. The Avenue Pub was one of the first gay establishments in Rochester during that time. She says her father is a part of the history of gay rights in Rochester.

"He fought really hard to be apart of Rochester and on the avenue, on Monroe Avenue. And we're still here today... but we do this in his honor still," says Knope.

Participant Denny Halopka is a member of the SAGE Rochester, a support group for members of the gay community ages 55 years and older. He says his community is still battling the same challenges from 50 years ago.

“We’ve got a long way to go, says Halopka. "It started with the first riot for our first pride. Now thanks to Trump, tearing everything down that we’ve fought for…we still have a big fight to go.”

Credit April Franklin / WXXI News
SAGE Rochester's float for ROC Pride Parade

Halopka  says there are many ways local police can improve when interacting with members of his community “Just be more aware of hate crimes… Just to be more aware and more cooperative… less judging.”

Danny Palmer runs a support group for young trans people, he says that pride is much more than a celebration.

“I’m hoping we remember that as we are celebrate today that this isn’t just a celebration it’s about that the fact that a lot of us are still fighting for things and it’s been great to see some of the floats around reflecting that as well.”

Sponsored by Out Alliance, the ROC Pride Parade is a part of an annual weeklong series of events honoring the LBGTQ community and history in Rochester.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.