The Anthony Mascioli Rainbow Dialogues began in 2018 as an initiative of Shoulders to Stand On. Evelyn Bailey, historian for the OutAlliance and archivist for the Rochester LGBTQ+ community and founder of Shoulders to Stand On, had a vision for a series of community building conversations designed to demonstrate the ways in which LGBTQ+ history and archives are relevant for people today. The annual Dialogues feature presentations and group discussions that reference and contextualize LGBTQ+ life in Rochester—past, present, and future—against the backdrop of local, state, and national social justice issues.

The Dialogues are presented by the Rochester Public Library and the Out Alliance and sponsored by Friends and Friends & Foundation of the Rochester Public Library and Humanities New York. Additional support comes from ImageOut, faculty of the Rochester Institute of Technology and SUNY College at Brockport, and community volunteers.

The Rainbow Dialogues are named in honor of Anthony Mascioli.

Anthony Mascioli, 1930–2013

The Shoulders to Stand On program is committed to documenting, preserving, and archiving the history of the LGBTQ+ 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 gives credibility to LGBTQ+ community and culture. Eleven program initiatives support this effort:

1.The Roots Chronology Initiative digitized the Empty Closet newspaper, the oldest continuously published gay newspaper in New York State. With the help of the University of Rochester, the Empty Closet can be searched online at The Empty Closet (1971-Current) | Digital Collections (rochester.edu).

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

3. The Oral History Initiative captured the stories, struggles and achievements of gay pioneers and allies on audio and video recordings. The original 102+ oral histories are the foundation of a 90-minute documentary film on the history of the Rochester LGBTQ+ community. Additional interviews have been (and continue to be) collected since the film was produced. Most of the interviews have been digitize and can be access online at Rochester, New York Voices of LGBT History | Digital Collections.

4. The Shoulders To Stand On 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 premiered at ImageOut film festival in 2013 and was aired on WXXI Public Television in 2014. Watch the film trailer at https://youtu.be/SqF99r7kfXM.

5. 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. This is an ongoing project.

6. The Shoulders To Stand On Educational Resource Guide provides additional resources, including historical outlines and links to additional source materials, to help educators, researchers, students, and the general population better understand and engage with the history presented in the Shoulders to Stand On film.

7. Gay Rochester Educational Resource Website A website has been launched to engage the community in conversations about Rochester’s LGBTQ+ history. The website offers information about the project, promotes opportunities to get involved in the program, and, most importantly, it allows people to submit their stories and/or materials that represent their own LGBTQ+ history. The current website is being updated to be an educational toolkit, providing information, study guides and other resources for churches, corporate diversity programs, and educators looking to include LGBTQ+ studies into their curriculums.

8. Anthony Mascioli Rainbow Dialogues is an annual series of community building conversations demonstrating how LGBTQ history and archival documents from the past are relevant for people today. The Dialogues will reference and contextualize LGBTQ life in Rochester against the backdrop of local and national social justice issues.

9. STSO ImageOut Archival Film Series Initiative The Out Alliance is the permanent repository of  750 ImageOut screening films, and approximately 1,500 personal and commercial videos.  This collection documents the cultural, factual, and fantasy life of the LGBTQ community across the planet.  The Archival Film Series will use the ImageOut films from the first 10 years of the ImageOut Film Festival to provide glimpses of gay and lesbian life made visible through film.  A panel discussion will accompany each film screening.

10. The STSO Library Initiative, funded by a grant from the Rochester Area Community Foundation’s LGBT Giving Circle, allowed the Shoulders To Stand On documentary film to be screened free of charge in libraries throughout the Monroe County and Pioneer library systems.

11. STSO and the David D. Emert Photographic Archive 
David has taken well over 10,000 photos in his collection of photographs of rochester’s LGBTQ history and culture.  Early in the evening on Zoom at different times of the year, you will find David sharing his photos to add to. the identification of people, places, and events.  Watch Facebook and Constant Contact  for announcements on upcoming Photographic Archive evenings.

For more information on the Shoulders to Stand On project, contact Evelyn Bailey at evelynb@outalliance.org.

Anthony Mascioli
Anthony Mascioli

Anthony Mascioli was a proud gay man, a proud Rochesterian, and a successful entrepreneur in New York City.

Tony grew up around North Street in Rochester, and went to Catholic schools. He knew he was gay as a young man, and when he came out to his family, his father was not very supportive. He left Rochester at 19 to briefly live in New York City, before returning to Rochester to attend The College at Brockport, State University of New York (then known as Brockport State Teacher’s College). He graduated from Brockport from an accelerated three-year program.

Tony returned to New York and attended Columbia University majoring in English Literature. In 1974 he went into partnership with his cousin and opened the Wall Street Spa and Sauna. Soon after, Tony also opened the East Side Sauna, and a guest house on Long Island.

Tony was a colorful and charismatic entrepreneur in New York City. He boldly celebrated being a gay man at a time when it wasn’t socially acceptable or safe. He provided a place for men, in and out of the closet, to socialize and find fulfillment in their identity. Most of all Tony lived his life openly with pride.

Tony was socially and financially invested in The Out Alliance, the Rochester Public Library, the Friends & Foundation of the Rochester Public Library, SUNY Brockport, and ImageOut.

Our organizations are proud to partner together under the leadership of the Out Alliance to present the Anthony Mascioli Rainbow Community Dialogues and the Anthony Mascioli Rainbow Dialogues Humanities archival recognition Celebration, continuing Tony’s support of the Rochester LGBTQ community and the community-at-large.

2022 Planning Committee

Tamara Carroll (chair)

Evelyn Bailey

Brandon Fess

Timothy Judd

Barbara LeSavoy

James Paulino

Gerry Szymanski

Bruce Wooley

Shoulders to Stand On