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CITY Visits...The Rochester Pride Parade

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After a two-year hiatus, the Rochester Pride Parade returned in July. We talked to some of the characters who make Pride the most colorful celebration in town.

Photos by Lauren Petracca. Interviews by Gino Fanelli.

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ELIZABETH LIND

Can you tell me about your wig?
"It’s from Michael’s, it’s a wreath! I just shoved a bunch of things in it and shoved it on my head. Driving over here was a little crazy. "

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MARA KOUIDOS

How's it feel to see everyone out here again today after such a long time?
"It’s amazing, it’s just so great seeing everyone together again."

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PETE BURWELL

How long have you been vending at Pride?
"I’ve been doing this for 10 years, but this is actually my first time here. It’s really great watching the floats come in and seeing all of the different people spread the love."

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ANTHONY GEORGE

What number Pride is this for you?
"Seventh, it’s a lot. I know all of the organizers so I’m getting pulled in every direction."

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KITARA ROMANOFF

Can you tell me a little bit about your outfit?
"My outfit was made by two queens at Roar. Basically what we want to share is summer, our new normal. Spring, we’re out at Pride again, everything comes together."

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PENNY OLIVIA

It’s been two years, can you tell me how it feels to be back at Pride?
"It’s a relief (to be back at Pride). I honestly didn’t think we’d ever have it again after the last two years of purgatory."

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HANS BORS

How long have you been making your own outfits?
"Oh my god, since I was young, but I recently started making my own stuff when I started go-go dancing at Roar a few years ago."

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LARRY KUSMIEREK

You said your outfit was divine-inspired?
"We’re pushing for being divine and taking a stand on SCOTUS and registering to vote. It’s very important, because the New York midterm for Senate are coming in August and it’s very important that anyone who isn’t registered to vote, registers to vote."

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LARRY FRANCER

Where’d you get the shirt?
"Oh just online, I saw a picture of that guy, the dark-haired one from Brokeback Mountain, oh, what’s his name?"

Jake Gyllenhaal?
"Yes! Gyllenhaal, I saw a photo online of him wearing it and I had to buy it."

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AMANDA LAWLAN, with WILLOW and EMBER

Is this their first Pride?
"Oh no, no, they’ve been in utero, as babies. This is the first one since the pandemic."

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CARLOS MERRYWEATHER

Tell me about the wings.
"I’m the Rochester social butterfly! I’ve been making wings for the past 10 years, and I march in all of the parades. I’m also Frederick Douglass, I do Frederick Douglass impersonations as well. "

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TIMOTHY COLEMAN

That is quite a costume, can you tell me about it?
"We’re doing an Alice in Wonderland theme, and I want to be a tree fairy. So I designed a costume to give a little bit more pizzazz to it. Unfortunately, my footwork isn’t working with it, so I might have to trim it."

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ELISABETH CONDE

How’s it feel to be Ms. Gay Rochester?
"It’s a lot, it’s a lot of pressure (being Ms. Gay Rochester). It’s been 49 years of queens, of legends, and having that on my shoulders. It’s a bit heavy, you know?"

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KRIS WYSOWSKI (left) and NIKKI STRASSBURG

That mask is really something, what’s the story behind it?

"I’m a puppy! Pup Skipper, it’s a fetish thing. I actually put the rhinestones in by hand, it took me about three months to finish."

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ANTHONY "KIKI BANANAHAMMOCK" BIZZARRO

How did you land on that name?
"I was pretty much wearing an outfit like this at a party in college, and someone said, ‘Ooh, look at miss banana hammock over there.’ And I say, ‘Oh, okay, we’re taking that name.’”

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GINGER KAIKAI

And how did you land on your name?
"Well, I’m a natural redhead."

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EVA FLOW

There seems to be a theme with your outfit today.
"I do paint with Flow at Roar, it’s like painting with a twist, but with me. I’m an artist!"

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VIVIAN DARLING

What’s the story behind the hat?
"I made it myself! All I wanted was a big ol’ obnoxious hat."

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CAROL BAUMANN

You seem to be a little politically involved, why is that important here?

"Oh where do I start, I’m just upset with people being marginalized. Every religion, whether it’s Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, whatever, is based on the same virtue — love your neighbor."

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MAURA (left) and MELISSA CHMIELOWIEC

How’s it feel to be back at Pride after the past few years?
"We’re very excited to be back (at Pride). Next year we’ll have our one year old with us, too!"

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