Oswego Pride Committee Selected as Community Champion

OSWEGO – Recognizing Oswego County recently honored the work of the Oswego Pride Committee and presented president, Gary Smith, with an award for Community Champion.

ROC Co-Chair Penny Morley presents Community Champion Award to Oswego Pride Committee President, Gary Smith.  From left: Shannon Perkins, Brandon Morey, Smith, Morley and Jim Karasek (County Legislator and presenter at ROC’s November Meeting).
ROC Co-Chair Penny Morley presents Community Champion Award to Oswego Pride Committee President, Gary Smith. From left: Shannon Perkins, Brandon Morey, Smith, Morley and Jim Karasek (County Legislator and presenter at ROC’s November Meeting).

The group is most well-known in Oswego for its annual Pride Festival and drag shows, but it also serves as a connector for LGBTQ community members and their allies throughout the county.

ROC co-chair Penny Morley said, “The Pride Committee is a powerful force for the LGBTQ community in Oswego County which helps to provide events that allow a safe space for people to connect and express themselves.”

The second annual Pride Festival was held this past September.

Smith described the idea for the first Pride Festival as accidental, emerging from regular social events that were being held monthly.

Smith said, “There are only a few pride festivals in the area – Syracuse is the closest. The Oswego Community has its own identity and we felt that we needed to have our own celebration.”

Smith saw the first festival as a way to organize the gay community and to express a positive message.

Since many LTGTQ individuals have children, it was important to maintain a child-friendly atmosphere and organizers included a number of kid’s activities.

The Pride Committee is already looking forward to next year’s event which will be held on September 11, 2016.

The other activity that the Pride Committee is known for in is putting on drag shows at the American Foundry.

These started as a fundraiser for the Lakeside Winterguard, but have branched out and now Queens for a Cause raise funds for many local charities such as Toys for Tots, Relay for Life, the AIDS Walk and the YMCA Skate Park.

Each show has a theme that sets the stage for the music and costumes.

As one of the drag queens, Smith also emcees these events.

“The energy and quality of the shows are amazing.  People who attend shows in other places often tell me how impressed they are that Oswego puts on such a great show. And we do that with mostly local performers,” Smith noted.

Recognizing Oswego County focuses on the positive efforts that are being made in the community.

Each month ROC uses this recognition effort as a platform for emphasizing the wonderful work that is happening in Oswego County to promote the health and wellness of children, families and adults.

A theme is selected each month and nominations for Community Champions are solicited.

ROC members include representatives from a broad range of community organizations as well as individual community members.  New members are welcome.

Monthly meetings are held from 8-9:15 a.m. on the second Thursday of each month at the Oswego County Federal Credit Union, 90 E. Bridge St.

For more information check out “Recognizing Oswego County-ROC” Facebook page or contact [email protected]