Our Facilitators

RJ Alcala – Original member of the Gay Liberation front

  • 1971 – Graduated from U of R Eastman School of Music
  • Fullbright Scholar – 1972 – Vienna
  • Secretarial work at Pfizer  

In 1967, RJ Alcalá came to Rochester as a Freshman at the Eastman School of Music, which was still a very homophobic place.   RJ was an original member of the University of Rochester Gay Liberaton Front (GLF). He knew Bob Osborne, one of the founders of the GLF.  RJ is credited with naming the Empty Closet Newspaper. He was also amember of the GLF Speakers Bureau.

Dr. Tamar Carroll Author, Associate Professor of History at RIT

  • Faculty affiliate in the Digital Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Faculty affiliate in the Museum Studies
  • Faculty affiliate in the Women’s and Gender Studies programs.

Carroll is co-editor of Nasty Women and Bad Hombres: Gender and Race in the 2016 US Presidential Election, published by the University of Rochester Press in 2018. She is the author of Mobilizing New York: AIDS, Antipoverty and Feminist Activism (University of North Carolina Press, 2015) and co-curator of the multimedia exhibition, “Whose Streets? Our Streets!”: New York City, 1980-2000.

Rowan Collins

  • Copywriter, Vine creative Studios – Partners + Napier
  • Former Communications Director, Out Alliance
  • Former Education Coordinator, Out Alliance

Rowan Collins is a copywriter at Partners + Napier. Prior to his work in marketing, Rowan was the Communications Director at the Out Alliance and Editor of the Empty Closet. He also served for 3 years as the Education Coordinator of the Alliance’s nationally recognized LGBTQ Academy. A lifelong activist with more than a decade of campaign and legislative lobbying experience under his belt, he is honored to be part of the Rainbow Dialogues initiative for a second year.

Bob Crystal

  • Self described Army brat
  • 1971 BA English Cornell University
  • Member of Cornell Gay Liberation Front and in 1971 joined the Rochester GLF

Born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Bob Crystal graduated from Cornell University in 1971.  Was at Stonewall. In 1970, Bob and 11 of his friends piled into 2 cars and drove back to New York City to march in the first Gay Pride Parade.  Bob was an active participant in the GLF at Cornell organizing protests and at the U of R being a member of the GLF Speakers Bureau.

Patti Evans

  • 1973 Graduated from University of Rochester
  • Original member of U of r Gay Liberation Front
  • Formed the first gay consciousness raising group for women in the City, GROW

During her second year at the U of R, Patti met Bob Osborn and Larry Fine at the “Riverview.” They were leafleting for the first meeting of the Gay Liberation Front. The random assortment of attendees at the first meeting scared Patti, and she did not attend the meeting. However, Bob Osborne visited her the following day.  This sparked her involvement with the Rochester GLF.

Brandon Fess

  • Librarian
  • Archivist for Local History & Genealogy Division of the Rochester Public Library
  • Rainbow Dialogues Committee 2017 – 2018

Brandon has an M.L.I.S. in Library and Information Studies from Syracuse University, with an emphasis in archival preservation and library management, and a B. A. in History from Nazareth College. A Rochester native, Brandon is a student of and advocate for increasing public awareness of Rochester’s past.  He has also run his own audio production company for 20 years.

Karen Hagberg

  • 1976 PhD in Musicology from the Eastman School of Music
  • Graduate of the Piano Department of the Talent Education Institute in Japan
  • Hagberg Suzuki Piano Program – teacher of Suzuki Piano Basics

In the early ‘70’s Karen Hagberg spearheaded the Gay Liberation Front Speakers Bureau, an educational tool founded at a time when many people “never had the opportunity to talk to gay people before.”  In the July-August Issue of Rochester Review Karen says, “I knew I was gay, somehow. But I’d never heard of anybody else who was. I mean, we really used to all think that we were the only ones in the world, no joke.”

Bob Harris

  • Grew up in Oneonta, NY
  • Bachelor Science in Education, Albany, NY
  • Taught at Greece, Arcadia

Bob grew up in Oneonta, went to college in Albany, and began teaching.  In the late ‘70’s Bob returned to Rochester and taught English and worked with the Drama Program at Greece, Arcadia.  Bob and his friends went to the Stonewall Inn the night after the riot.“OK, four friends and I drove down to New York to visit mutual friends down there. … we heard something had gone on at Stonewall. And one of the guys from New York said, “Well, let’s go down.  Let’s go to Stonewall.” And me being me, “OK.” We went.”

Tim Judd

  • Currently teaching for Hillside
  • Rochester LGBT Heroes Tell Their Story Committee 2017
  • Rainbow Dialogues Committee 2017 – 2018

Tim has 16 years of experience in urban education as a history, US Government and Economics teacher. He has worked vigorously in many political campaigns towards social justice and equal opportunity for the disadvantaged in the Rochester community. Tim has written about the history of the Gay Liberation Movement 1970-1974 and is a proud member of the LGBTQ community.

Tamara Leigh

  • Public Relations/Event Management Coordinator City of Rochester Dept. of Recreation and Youth Services
  • Professional Development Specialist City of Rochester Dept. of Recreation and Youth Services
  • Temple University in Philadelphia, PA  Communications and Journalism

Rochester native, Tamara Leigh, is the current Director of Communications at the Out Alliance, an agency that champions the rights and lifestyle of the LGBTQ+ community and Editor of their publication, The Empty Closet.  Leigh also acts as co-host of radio show, Brunchin’ With Dee & T. on WAYO 104.3FM and CEO of Roc Candy Media, an urban Public Relations, Brand Development and Media Management firm. Tamara co-chairs, Rochester Black Pride and is one of the founding members of the WOC~ART (Woke Art) Collaborative. Tamara acted as PR and Development Team member of the ROC Awards, ROC the Park, and Nathaniel Johnson’s Designer Challenge Competition 2018 & 2019.

Dr. Barbara LeSavoy

  • Director and Assistant Professor of Women and Gender Studies Program at SUNY Brockport
  • Senior Editor, Dissenting Voices
  • Founder and Co-editor, Seneca Falls Dialogues Journal

Dr. Barbara LeSavoy teaches Feminist Theory; Global Perspectives on Women and Gender; Gender, Race, and Class; and Senior Seminar in Women and Gender at SUNY Brockport. Her research and publication areas include women’s global human rights, sex and gender in literature and popular culture, intersectionality and educational equity, and women’s stories as feminist standpoint.

Dr. Bek Orr

  • Assistant Professor of Women and Gender Studies at the State University of New York, College at Brockport
  • Outstanding Teaching Award, Syracuse University
  • Rainbow Dialogues Committee 2018 – 2019

She completed her Ph.D. in sociology at Syracuse University in 2017, and her research interests lie at the intersection of queer communities, LGBTQIA+ archives, and collective memory.  She is currently working on a book manuscript titled The Ageing of the Archives: Community, Conflict, and Queer Potential at the Lesbian Herstory Archives.

Tom Orsini

  • Born in Rochester, NY
  • Classses at RIT and U of R
  • Retired and currently an artist in acrylic paintings

Sunday, June 29,  was a lovely summer day for a ride to NYC.  After “primping” for hours at the hotel we headed to the Stonewall.  We found the bar’s windows knocked out – glass all over the pavement and a slight smell of smoke still hanging in the air. A few dozen guys were hanging around the little park in front of the Inn. One was very notable to me – the FIRST DRAG QUEEN I had ever seen.  The Queen screamed something about “THE HEAT – RUN”. Everyone ran. Sirens were sounding and I could hear the police marching in formation where a disorganized protest had formed.

Christine Ridarsky

  • City Historian, Rochester, NY
  • Historical Services Consultant for Local History & Genealogy Division and the Office of the City Historian
  • Rainbow Dialogues Committee 2017 – 2018

Christine has an M.A. in History from the State University of New York, College at Brockport, and is ABD toward a Ph.D. in American History at the University of Rochester.  Christine has 15 years of experience in public history and archives, having served as Regional Archivist for the New York State Archives Documentary Heritage Program from 2002 to 2004 and as an archival consultant and professional historian since then.

Victor Sanchez

  • Board member and Finance Committee member of Trillium Health. 
  • VDC (Virtual Design and Construction) Coordinator at Wegmans Food Markets
  • Volunteers with Human Rights Campaign, HRC Spring Dinner Committee

Victor is a hard working individual that gives 100% to everything he does. He does not see any task as useless and is happy to help out in any way he can. He has a passion for buildings, structures, site development and the environment. He hopes to someday combine all his interests and make a difference in the world for the better.

Gerry Szymanski

  • Adjunct Instructor in Musicology, Eastman School of Music
  • Founding Co-Coordinator and Librarian, Out Alliance Library and Archives
  • Reserves and Digital Services Librarian, Sibley Music Library

Gerry has served as Librarian and Director of the Out Alliance Library and Archives for over fourteen years. He is an award-winning composer, photographer, and filmmaker. An avid lover of movies, he can be found at the Little, the Cinema, the Dryden and anywhere the ImageOUT festival screens.

Anna Vernacchio

  • Gallery Manager at Rochester Institute of Technology’s Downtown Gallery Space
  • Self-motivated aspiring museum professional
  • Extensive experience with interpersonal management and leadership

Anna Vernacchio is a senior in the Museum Studies at Rochester Institute of Technology. She also works as a student employee at the RIT Institutional Archives and is the student manager for RIT’s City Art Space. Anna is interested in community discourse, art and art history and the intersection of identity and politics.