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Anthony Mascioli Rainbow Dialogues

From 2018 – 2021, the Anthony Mascioli Rainbow Dialogues has been presented by the Central Library of Rochester & Monroe County and the Out Alliance and sponsored by the Friends & Foundation of the Rochester Public Library. Additional support was provided by faculty from the Rochester Institute of Technology and SUNY College at Brockport, community volunteers, and ImageOut.

The annual program’s goal is to demonstrate how LGBTQ+ history and archival documents are relevant for people today and to contextualize LGBTQ+ life in Rochester against the backdrop of local and national social justice issues.

The Dialogues grew out of a partnership between the Out Alliance and the library to preserve LGBTQ+ history. To date, more than 21 LGBTQ+ archival collections have been transferred from the Out Alliance to the Local History& Genealogy Division of the library to ensure long-term preservation and public access. These collections, one of the largest LGBTQ+ archives in New York State, provide the intellectual foundation for the Rainbow Dialogues; specific collections are referenced in Dialogue descriptions.

About Anthony (‘Tony’) Mascioli

Anthony (‘Tony’) Mascioli (1930 – 2013) grew up around North Street in Rochester and went to Catholic schools. He knew he was gay as a young man, but 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). After graduating from Brockport, he 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. 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 and 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 to continue Tony’s support of the Rochester LGBTQ+ community and the community-at-large.

William A. (Bill) Johnson, keynote speaker 2021, (first picture on left, above); Stanley Byrd, Ed.D., keynote speaker 2020 (second picture); Dr. Beck Orr, keynote speaker 2019 (third picture), Franklin A. Robinson, Jr., keynote speaker 2018 (fourth picture)

Fourth annual Anthony Mascioli Rainbow Dialogues (February 2021)

The 4th Annual Anthony Mascioli Rainbow Dialogues confronted the double pandemic of COVID-19 and racism in its 2021 program (held virtually, via Zoom).

The 2021 theme, Lessons Learned from an Unequal World, took an intersectional approach to understanding and addressing longstanding and continuing inequality facing the Rochester community. Keynote speaker William A. Johnson reflected on his experiences confronting racism and supporting the LGBTQ+ community as head of the Urban League, mayor of Rochester, and co-chair of the Commission on Racial and Structural Equity (RASE) and shared the lessons he’s learned along the way. Afterward, panelists shared their own experiences of inequality and discussed efforts—personal and community-driven—to overcome the challenges.

Third annual Anthony Mascioli Rainbow Dialogues (February 2020)

‘Intersectionality in Social and Political Change: A Historical Perspective’ was presented by Central Library of Rochester & Monroe County and the Out Alliance, in partnership with Friends & Foundation of the Rochester Public Library and Image Out.

Keynote speaker: Stanley Byrd, Ed.D., Vice President for Diversity, Inclusion and Human Resources, Empire Justice Center.

Break Out Sessions included: ‘Interesectionality in AIDS Activism: A Catalyst for Change,’ facilitated by Paul Scheib and Jeremy Tjhung; and ‘Intersectionality and Trans Equality: How Cisnormativity Affects Us All,’ presented by Milo Obourn, PhD, Associate Professor & Chair, Dept. of Women & Gender Studies, The College at Brockport, State University of New York.

Second annual Anthony Mascioli Rainbow Dialogues (March 2019)

Central Library’s Local History & Genealogy Division, FFRPL, and the Out Alliance presented the second annual Anthony Mascioli Rainbow Dialogues as part of a year-long community-wide commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the uprising at the Stonewall Inn in New York City in 1969 that launched the gay liberation movement.

One notable highlight: the keynote speaker, Bek Orr, Associate Professor of Women and Gender Studies at the State University of New York, College at Brockport, gave a fascinating talk, ‘(Re)telling the Past and (Re)shaping the Future: Community Building at the Lesbian Herstory Archives in a Post-Stonewall Era,’ which also highlighted the importance of intergenerational exchange when working with archival materials.

Inaugural Anthony Mascioli Rainbow Dialogues (March 2018)

The focus of the inaugural program was the LGBTQ+ special collections that had recently been transferred to the Rochester Public Library as part of a multi-year project with the Out Alliance. The collections included documents, newspapers, videos, books and ephemera. RPL will serve as the permanent home for the collections, providing the community-at-large with greater access to the content.

One notable highlight: the keynote speaker: Franklin A. Robinson, Jr., Archivist, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian recognized the impact of local efforts to preserve, promote, and utilize the LGBTQ+ collections. “I think that the community in Rochester is far and away at the forefront of preservation of LGBTQ culture,” he noted.

Robinson actively collects for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Collection at the Archives Center, National Museum of American History.

View Robinson’s thank you letter following the Rainbow Dialogues here