The revelation that Empire State Pride Agenda will discontinue its main operations next year has stunned many in the LGBT community. The Pride Agenda is a pillar in the gay rights movement, advocating on behalf of a long list of issues in New York since 1990, including hate-crime legislation and marriage equality.
The group has long been considered the political lobbying arm of the LGBT movement in New York.
The organization's leaders say that the Pride Agenda has achieved its most important goals, according to media reports, assigning it a "mission accomplished" epitaph.
"An awful lot of people would say, 'Wait a minute, mission accomplished?'" says Scott Fearing, executive director of the Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley. "They did accomplish a lot, but the work is definitely not over."
Norman Simon, co-chair of the Pride Agenda's board, says that he couldn't agree more and that some of the group's work will continue, but in a different form.
While the brick-and-mortar operations will go away, he says, the organization will continue to play a role in New York politics through its political action committee.
A written statement from the group's executive director, Nathan Schaefer, says that "Our board made this decision unanimously after careful deliberation about the evolving needs and priorities of our communities, as well as the resources we would need to continue to serve them."
As a result of the Pride Agenda's decision, Fearing says, more of the education and political action work will have to happen at the grassroots level across the state.
"I will miss having them in Albany," he says. "But the future of the LGBT rights movement is really going to happen at the local community level."