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Feedback 8/29 

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A Pride divide?

I read the article on Black Pride ("Pride Divide") with much sorrow. I have been an LGBTQ activist for over 40 years, starting with tenure on the board of the Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley (now Out Alliance) here in Rochester. I have served as the president or on the board of many other gay groups, mostly in California.

I had never heard of Black Pride until about a month ago. The premise of your article was that some people felt "excluded" from LGBTQ pride activities; yet, no such exclusion was cited in your article.

I have never personally closed the door to any individual at an LGBTQ group that I helped organize. Nor have I ever heard of any such exclusion.

Self-segregating pride runs directly counter to the underlying philosophy of the LGBTQ movement. Our first activists recognized two distinct approaches to civil-rights activism. One established self-identified groups and engaged in identity politics. The founders of our movement purposely and correctly rejected that approach. The alternate approach focused on individuals and those political-legal protections needed for individuals to thrive – as they define themselves. This approach, which has been more successful than any similar effort in American history, is our documented history.

Today, many speak of intersectionality. In summary, it says that the different sections of society can effect social change by working together. Well, if we recognize community as a whole, and avoid these Hegelian-Marxist self- established divisions, the concept dissolves into nonsense. And it has absolutely no linkage to our LGBTQ history.

Black Pride is but one more example of this unhealthy split-and-divide concept. Which, again, is antithetical to our successful movement.

In fact, the only exclusion cited in your article was Black Pride's treatment of the Rochester Police Department. If a governmental unit is not responding appropriately to the community, they should be engaged, met with, and have personal relations developed. This strategy is as old as the Republic. It is very Madisonian (read The Federalist Papers).

A Black Pride organizer was quoted as wanting to invite only committed politicians to their event. Again, the closed-mindedness of self-segregation is demonstrated. I would much rather walk though Pride with a politician who is not yet with us, introducing him or her to the rainbow of our community and giving them the chance to experience the dynamic mix that we embody.

I have no idea what "white focused" Pride means. There were, if I remember correctly, some 70 entries in the Rochester parade. Was there some invisible "white" linkage therein?

Pride, and the movement to which I have devoted much of my adult life, is demonstrably racially neutral. (And as a Jew, I have an existential understanding of minority status.) There is one Pride and one community of individuals. Each individual has their unique qualities and beliefs. We are not a hyphenated group. We are siblings, parents, children, co-workers, neighbors, and friends. We are society; such is the basis for our underlying strategy: Coming out!

Please, Black Pride, do not divide us again.


Parcel 5 for all

Rochester does not lack culture, history, entertainment, good food, individuality, or civic pride. The one thing it lacks is people walking downtown at night. On this point I agree completely with Mayor Warren: With Parcel 5, Rochester needs something out of the ordinary that will generate foot traffic and create a buzz.

The Warren administration needs to be careful, though, to not commit the fallacy of false alternatives. There is no reason why several features of different plans can't be integrated into one design.

This is a rare opportunity to create a performing arts center big enough to meet the needs of RBTL; an underground parking garage; mixed-use office and retail on the first floor; a community space with trees, walkways, a fountain, and outdoor stage in front of the building, and an open park space on top of the building. Just imagine the views of the city from on top rather than below.

Our city cannot afford to put artificial limits on what is possible. I often ask myself what Frederick Law Olmsted would do if he were given the Parcel 5 commission. I think he would create something along the lines of what I am proposing. This multi-use, multi-dimensional, multi-cultural, democratic space can achieve several important goals: It can create a major source of excitement in the form of a state-of-the-art performing arts center; it can beautify the front of the space and invite people to congregate on Main Street; it can help lighten the city's parking burden; and it can keep the dream alive for an open-air park space on top.

Let's proceed in the spirit of Olmsted. With enough innovation and courage, a design that meets everyone's needs can be brought to fruition and shape the character of our city forever.


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