The Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley is planning to move out of its headquarters on the fifth floor of the Auditorium Theatre and into a transitional space that will give the organization a higher profile and the momentum to kick off a larger project, says Scott Fearing, the alliance's executive director.
That project could include providing offices for various LGBTQ organizations, including a new permanent home for the Gay Alliance, he says, as well as a community center.
The group's current headquarters is cramped, he says, and nearly invisible to the community.
"It's just not accessible," Fearing says.
He says his goal is to create a one-stop-shop for the LGBTQ communities. The Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley is an LGBTQ advocacy organization serving Monroe and surrounding counties.
In addition to its administrative offices, the Gay Alliance used to have a community room in the Auditorium Theatre, on the first floor. But the room didn't get a lot of use, Fearing says, so it closed last fall. He says he's embarrassed that the Gay Alliance doesn't have a community center to serve the LGBTQ population.
"We've got one of the oldest organizations in the country," Fearing says. "We have a really long history of doing amazing work in this town, and the community doesn't have a center to turn to or to find themselves."
Looking farther down the road, Fearing says he'd love for the Gay Alliance to help bring LGBTQ-specific senior housing to Rochester. Nationwide, housing for LGBTQ seniors is becoming a trend. Minneapolis, Philadelphia, and San Francisco are among the cities with senior LGBTQ housing projects.
Research shows that many LGBTQ individuals go back into the closet when they move into senior housing, Fearing says. It's not just about discrimination, he says, but also about finding a place where they can be themselves.
"The person may not know if they really can talk honestly about their life," Fearing says.