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LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION!

By BRO Contributor Marilyn Rodgers:

On January 9, 2010, three women met with one goal in mind – to bring the LGBT Community together to request additional security measures from city government for the Gay Entertainment District from Allen and Franklin to Main Street with continuous surveillance of that strip as well as Main Street both North and South of Allen.

They devised an online and in-bar petition process, developed this evening event, acquired all donations of services, supplies and cash for the newly created Reward Fund and promoted United We Stand in Buffalo, NY until the flashes of rainbow colored figures with their arms waving in the air even entered their sleep.

Yvonne White and Kathy Kumro of Adonia’s Bar on Allen wanted to comfort their friends and clientele who were fearful of entering the Allen Street area as well as providing a forum for understanding the impact of enhanced safety features for residents of Allentown.

Ten days later, the event came off without a hitch January 20th.  Approximately 250 individuals attended greeted by the sounds of the Buffalo Gay Men’s Chorus who, besides volunteering the performance of two songs, also provided the audience with complimentary tickets to a February 20th performance at the Unity Church at 1243 Delaware Avenue.

Stalwart LGBT activists such as Carol Speser, Madeline Davis and Kitty Lambert were recognized in the audience and an announcement was made for Kitty Lambert’s Hate Crimes Community Forum scheduled for Friday, January 22, 2010 at 7 pm – Ascension Church on Delaware and North.

Yvonne and Kathy spoke about the need for community to come “together not as a force, but as an educational outreach to all citizens of Buffalo and WNY – bringing people together for a common goal of unity.”  Then, prior to introducing the Mayor, they noted that about 500 signatures had already been collected for the security goals for the LGBT Entertainment District.

Mayor Brown spoke about discrimination and encouraged the crowd to contact the Commission for Citizens’ Rights and Community Relations at 716-851-8000 or ccr@city-buffalo.com.

The Mayor then announced the installation of a police camera on Main and Allen that would effectively scope the north and south of Main Street as well as Allen Street.  Additionally, he charged DPW Commissioner Steve Stepniak to work with NiMo for the purpose of more effective and brighter lighting between Franklin and Main on Allen.

The ongoing petition seemed to have worked before the signatures were officially handed in so the event organizers will be contacting Madeline Davis to see if it can be included in her GLBT Archives of Western New York.

Michael Harmon, father of Lindsey Harmon, also addressed the audience emphasizing the need to embrace LGBT family members.

Madeline Davis also spoke with her vast knowledge of the struggles for even an inch of equality for the past 50 years in the WNY area.

And Chief Donna Berry spoke of the importance of involvement, whether in the LGBT Community or the community-at-large and encouraged everyone to give up a bar night and volunteer.

Other elected officials that weren’t able to attend had statements read by various representatives.  These included NYS Senator Antoine Thompson, NYS Assemblyman Sam Hoyt, Erie County Legislator Maria Whyte and Ellicott District Councilman Curtis Haynes while others stood in the audience respecting the fact that this was not a political event, but an additional call to our elected officials to consider the validity of the LGBT citizen in their deliberations of the future.

The new United We Stand Buffalo website was also announced that would act as a one-stop depository for all LGBT and LGBT-related events, meetings and other community education efforts.  Viewers of this site can click onto the group’s e-mail to send press releases and other information.

Donors for this event and the Reward Fund include Jim Crampton – Printing; Jen Paulmier – Product for future raffles to benefit Lindsay Harmon; Ani DiFranco & Scot Fisher – Asbury Hall @ Babeville; Citizens Bank – Reward Account; Jessie Wormer – Signage; Programmatic Solutions – Development of Nonprofit Status & Web Presence; Buffalo Gay Men’s Chorus – Performance; and Southern Wine and Spirits – $500.

But, along with the victory of the camera and lighting came smaller ones, as well.  Some folks reconnected after many years; a young man – tossed out by family when he came out – told of how he now felt more confident about himself; and an appreciation between generations and a renewed interest in bringing community together seemed to saturate the entire Hall.

Thank you to all in attendance and all who supported this important endeavor.

United We Stand – Buffalo

Written by Buffalo Rising

Buffalo Rising

Sometimes the authors at Buffalo Rising work on collaborative efforts in order to cover various events and stories. These posts can not be attributed to one single author, as it is a combined effort. Often times a formation of a post gets started by one writer and passed along to one or more writers before completion. At times there are author attributions at the end of one of these posts. Other times, “Buffalo Rising” is simply offered up as the creator of the article. In either case, the writing is original to Buffalo Rising.

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