CORNING, N.Y. (WENY) -- The Gaffer District hosts one of many pride celebrations - across the Twin Tiers. The whole month of June celebrates LGBTQ+ and the early summer days of 1969 promoted that important recognition.  

“There wasn't one (PRIDE) and 2,000 people came, and it wasn't small,” said the Founder of Southern Finger Lake Pride, Hannah Jones. “No so basically after that we were like we need to do this more.”  

In 2019, Hannah and her straight allies worked with several organizations to form an initiative that would launch a local pride festival. Southern Fingers Lake Pride Festival hit the ground running with flying colors in 2020. Corning Mayor Boland's sister shares her experience with reporters.  

“I'm celebrating Pride today,” said Colleen Boland. "This is my hometown and I just recently moved back after being out in the world for the last 30 years.” 

Pride in the Southern Tier continued with social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. 2023 is the first official pride since the end of the pandemic 

“We are back better than ever. So, we have a main stage of performances, drag queens, drag kings' live music, choir, live art in the park, 21 plus tasting that is hosted by Finger Lakes Wine County,” Jones adds. 

Colleen left the Southern Tier to join the Military because the Southern Tier was not accepting of LGBTQ+ neighbors. It took a while for Colleen to feel like she could be herself. June 10th, 2023 was an emotional day for Colleen at Corning Pride 2023. 

“I couldn't be myself so to come home and walk the streets of Corning, to see the youth walking down the streets, being themselves and having every opportunity open to them. I was over... I have been overwhelmed a number of times today,” Boland remarks with pride. 

Trisha LaMorres's story began with a friend who inspired her to perform in a talent show. This would lead Christian through six Pride's; doing what she loves, performing. 

“There is just something inside of me, the art, the creativeness, getting ready for the performance, learning the mannerisms of the person I am impersonating just brings so much joy,” Tristan LaMorre notes. 

Almost 12 years ago, same-sex marriage legislation passed both the House and the Senate. Signed on June 24th, 2011, and taking effect 1 month later. The LGBTQ+ community finally had the opportunity to be treated like their straight allies. 

“It hasn't been that long since people of the LGBTQ community have been able to get married,” shares Phoenix, an Ordained Minister. “So, there are a lot of couples who still haven't gone because they weren't allowed to.” 

A friend of Phoenix adds why providing marriage services at Pride is important. 

“We wanted to use our businesses and marry people of the LGBTQIA Plus community,” Shaylin adds to the conversation. 

Following the Stonewall Riots in 1969, 1970 was the first official Pride. This was the groundwork to welcome moments worldwide to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community.