About Us

Our Mission

To provide Pride events for the gender-identity and sexual-orientation minority communities and their allies; that inspire, educate, commemorate and celebrate our diverse community; in order to promote an environment for advocacy, outreach, inclusion, and equity for gender-identity and sexual-orientation minorities.

Our Organization

Rochester’s Pridefest began in 1998 under the leadership of Gay and Lesbian Community Services of Southeastern Minnesota (GLCS) and was held every year for nearly the next two decades.

In the past year, GLCS passed the planning of Pride over to a diverse group of LGBTQIA residents that came together to form a new nonprofit organization named Rochester Pride. Rochester Pride is dedicated to celebrating LGBTQIA identities in our city. Our board, made of elected community members, strives to build upon the past twenty years of Pride as we look forward to the future.

According to the Williams Institute, an estimated 230,000 Minnesotans, or 4.1 percent of the population, identify as LGBTQIA. While Minnesota has made strides toward protecting those identities, the U.S. as a whole is seeing many of those legal protections stripped away. It is more important than ever to celebrate and foster understanding of gender and sexual minorities in these divisive times.

There are other Pride celebrations in Minnesota, but no other city has as rich an international population. As Rochester continues to grow, new opportunities to refashion this city as a welcoming, inclusive place for people of all gender identities and sexual orientations are presenting themselves. We welcome all individuals, organizations, and businesses who are interested in participating as a sponsor to do so. The generosity of the wider community will be critical for Rochester to have a successful Pride in 2019 and to affirm that all are welcomed and valued within our community.

The Rochester Pride Board is made of community members with a range of gender and sexual identities, who were all elected by the members of the group in late 2018. If you are interested in joining a committee or serving on the board in future years, don’t hesitate to reach out!

Meet the Board

Jennifer Winter

Board Chair
She/her

What’s your vision for Rochester Pride 2019?

To create a sustainable Pride event that is inclusive and representative of all the members of the LGBTQIA+ community.

What was your first Pride experience?

I attended my first pride event shortly after I came out. I remember how liberating it felt to be at an event filled with other LGBTQIA+ community members where we were all free to be ourselves and celebrate our diversity as a community.

What can Rochester do to make this the best Pride ever?

Get involved and spread the word. It will take lots of people in order to make Pride happen. We still need help on several of our organizing committees and will need lots of volunteers the day of the event in order make Pride a success.

Bryan Chase

Vice Chair - Social Media Secretary - Volunteer chair
He/Him

What’s your vision for Rochester Pride 2019?

A Pride that isn’t competing to be noticed, but can stand on its own. One that brings the local Rochester community as well as surrounding areas together to celebrate our community and remember what we are celebrating.

What was your first Pride experience?

My first Pride was here in Rochester at Central Park with the gazebo. I remember they used Barbie dolls on floats in the fountain to signify gay and lesbian relationships. That was huge to me then, but now I realize it only shows a thin slice of our community, and that we need to have everyone at the table.

What can Rochester do to make this the best Pride ever?

We can involve all members of the community by engaging with everyone, including everyone, and making sure we all feel represented and proud of our Pride. That starts with engaging the youth, and those often kept silent in our community.

John Alexander

Board Secretary
He/Him

What’s your vision for Rochester Pride 2019?

In the words of Auntie Mame, “I’m having a party, and all of my friends are here, even the ones I haven’t met yet!” I see a coming-together. A celebration of all that we are and can be. Love, peace, and community. Rainbows, unicorns, and cake with soaring anthems and great dance beats. I hope this event becomes the talk of the town; the place where everyone wants to be; a rainbow beacon.

What was your first Pride experience?

My first Pride was in the Twin Cities. I’m not sure which year it was, perhaps 1986. I remember being with my friends and being out in a way that I hadn’t been before, like a weight I didn’t realize was there had been lifted. I have since been to many Prides, Marches, Conferences, Runs, Performances, and other LGBTQ+ gatherings of various flavors in many cities. And in almost all of these, I have found I can make connections which celebrate and honor who we are.

What can Rochester do to make this the best Pride ever?

Don’t let our detractors or differences divide us. Support one another. Chill. Laugh. Tell your friends, spread the word. As you are able, contribute time or money or hugs. Visibility is important.

Bethany Gangestad-Birk

Social Media & promotions Chair - Logistics & Fundraising Secretary
She/Her

What’s your vision for Rochester Pride 2019?

My vision for Pride 2019 is for it to make a positive impact on the community and for everyone to feel included.

What was your first Pride experience?

The first Pride I attended was Rochester Pride 2017. I had just moved to town and started coming out to my close friends and family. It was an important experience for me to feel welcome to Rochester and the LGBTQ+ community here.

What can Rochester do to make this the best Pride ever?

Get Involved! Let us know what you want out of this event and what you can do to help out!

Julie Winters

Fundraising chair
She/Her

What’s your vision for Rochester Pride 2019?

My ideal vision for 2019 Pride, and all Prides, is a place where the LGBTQI+ community can come together to celebrate our shared experiences and learn from our unique differences.

What was your first Pride experience?

My first Pride was much later in life and it inspired a wonderful sense of freedom to be out, in every sense of the word, with friends finally enjoying who I was. After so much doubt, I knew that I was where I belonged.

What can Rochester do to make this the best Pride ever?

We need the community to get involved since the best Pride is the one that is built by the community for the community.

Andrea Wood

Logistics Chair
She/her

What’s your vision for Rochester Pride 2019?

My vision is for a fun and inclusive Pride that celebrates the beautiful diversity of our community here in Rochester.

What was your first Pride experience?

My first Pride experience was very life-affirming and soul-nourishing. It made me feel safe, welcomed, and part of a larger queer community. 

What can Rochester do to make this the best Pride ever?

To make this the best Pride ever, we need everyone from the Rochester LGBTQ+ communities, as well as our allies, to support this event. We need folks involved leading up to and during Pride. A Pride is only ever as strong as the community that supports it, and we hope Rochester will step up and show up for Pride 2019!

Zoe Lynn

Education Chair
She/Her

What’s your vision for Rochester Pride 2019?

My vision for Rochester Pride is for it to be a fun and inclusive experience for our community. I think education about our community and its history will be exciting for everyone!

What was your first Pride experience?

My first Pride experience was Twin Cities Pride in 2018. I felt like I was able to be around like-minded individuals who care about things that I do. I loved being able to see all the different parts of our community and seeing that displayed with confidence.

What can Rochester do to make this the best Pride ever?

Rochester can help make this Pride the best Pride by showing their support for this exciting event. I’m excited to see the community come together and enjoy this inclusive event.

Katrine Sjovold

Vendor Chair
They/Them

What’s your vision for Rochester Pride 2019?

My vision for Pride is of an accessible pride, where all bodies and identities can share space with one another and celebrate us.

What was your first Pride experience?

One of my first Pride related experiences was my universities Pride week; they held different events throughout the week geared at celebrating our identities and it was really beautiful seeing all aspects of the campus’ LGBTQIA2S+ community coming together-the student drag show at the end of it wasn’t something to overlook either! So much glitter!

What can Rochester do to make this the best Pride ever?

I think that the greater Rochester community can make this a great Pride by showing up and letting your voice be heard. This is for all of us in the LGBTQ community, and we want to hear from you!

Hannah Giehtbrock

Vendor Secretary
She/Her

What’s your vision for Rochester Pride 2019?

My vision for Rochester Pride is to be an inclusive, welcoming event that celebrates the history and future of our community.

What was your first Pride experience?

Twin Cities Pride 2018 was my first official Pride experience. It was one of the first times where I felt as though I could fully be myself without fear. I remember a sense of solidarity that I had never experienced before, knowing that everyone who surrounded me was uniting for a common purpose.

What can Rochester do to make this the best Pride ever?

The community of Rochester can help make this the best pride ever by supporting the Rochester Pride efforts. Ways that you can show your support include: spreading the word about the event, making donations, attending fundraisers and continuing to raise overall awareness. We have the opportunity to make change for the better and with the communities support we can!

Bob Werner

Treasurer
They/them

What’s your vision for Rochester Pride 2019?

My vision for Rochester Pride 2019 is to have the most inclusive LGBTQA celebration in the city’s history.

What was your first Pride experience?

My first pride experience was 30 years ago – and it was magical to be in a place where LGBTQA people celebrated their identity.

What can Rochester do to make this the best Pride ever?

Rochester can help make this the best pride ever by bringing a carload of friends and enjoying a few hours of fun.