The Eastman School of Music’s LGBTQ+ community proudly displays its colors for Pride Month. Meet some of Eastman’s LGBTQ+ faculty and staff and hear what they have to say about Pride Month, allyship, and community resources. And remember that Rochester celebrates Pride in July, adding an extra month to the national festivities.
Meet members of Eastman’s LGBTQ+ Community
Amy Aldrich (she/they): I’m the Department Coordinator for Musicology; Woodwinds, Brass and Percussion; and Organ, Sacred Music, and Historical Keyboards. I just moved to Rochester from Chicago six months ago. I love it here so far, especially how LGBTQ+ friendly the city is and how close we are to so many great hiking and camping spots!
What is the importance of Pride Month to you? For me, Pride Month is about commemorating those who have forged a path to a more inclusive world and honoring their legacy by advocating for members of the LGBTQ+ community who continue to be marginalized today.
What advice would you give someone who wants to be a better ally to the LGBTQ+ community? There are so many small things you can implement into your daily life that make a huge impact. Things like using gender neutral language when addressing groups, introducing yourself with your name and pronouns when meeting someone for the first time, including your pronouns in your email signature, etc. As someone who is either cisgender and/or straight, you can help normalize conversations around identity and pronouns so it’s less awkward and uncomfortable for everyone else.
Where would you point incoming students looking for LGBTQ+ support and community? (At Eastman/UR, in Rochester, etc.) Rochester LBGTQ+ Together is an awesome volunteer-led grassroots organization that organizes a ton of different events and programs each month. Whatever your interests are, they will have something on their calendar for you! They also have support groups that are worth checking out.
Roger Freitas (he/him): I’m a musicologist (music historian) specializing in seventeenth-century Italy and the performance practice of several periods. I am particularly interested in issues of gender and sexuality, and how they relate to the lives of past musicians and the music they created.
What is the importance of Pride Month to you? I think Pride has always been a gesture of affirmation for our community in the face of resistance and hate. Those elements have of course been on the rise again over the last decade, so that our visibility and positive representation have never been more important. In the face of those who want to hide and silence us, we need to celebrate ourselves at full volume.
How does being a part of the LGBTQ+ community inform your work? My aforementioned interest in the history of gender and sexuality surely flows from my own experience of “difference.” I believe my sexuality makes me more sensitive to historical markers of such difference, even when expressed far differently than today.
Becky Holtz (she/her): I began working in the Eastman Opera costume shop about a year ago and quickly found it to be an environment that suites me well. Opera is inherently an art form of spectacle and exaggeration. As such, it lends itself to a lot of creative storytelling through costuming. Outside of Eastman, I am the co-owner of a burlesque company that performs regularly in the Rochester area. When I am not working, I study a number of dance forms including ballet, pole, aerial silks & tap. I also enjoy camping hiking, playing Dungeons & Dragons, and creating a safe & happy home for my bevy of beloved rescue pets.
How does being a part of the LGBTQ+ community inform your work? It has been my experience that, by being out, I communicate to both my co-workers and the students I interact with that they are in a safe, queer-friendly space where they can be out & proud too, if they want to.
What advice would you give someone who wants to be a better ally to the LGBTQ+ community? Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Questions are how we learn! I hear a lot of people say that they want to be supportive of the queer folx in their lives, but they are worried about being offensive. It’s ok not to know everything. I’m always really happy when someone asks me questions about my queer identity, or asks me to explain what a queercentric term means. To me that conveys that they are paying attention, and they care.
Josh Lau (he/him): Production Stage Manager with Eastman Opera Theatre; I spend a lot of my time doing crossword puzzles.
Thoughts about Pride Month? The fight is not over.
Kerry Lubman (they/them): I’m a visual designer, but specifically here at Eastman, I’m the Designer & Graphics Coordinator in the Communications Office. Aside from that, I’m a drummer, my cats’ biggest fan, and a lover of the simple things in life like laughing with my favorite people, memorably good food, and seeing something really cool in nature that makes me go “hold on, I gotta get a photo of that.”
What is the importance of Pride Month? It gives people an opportunity to come together and celebrate with their community. It sheds light on the crucial history that has lead to what today’s Pride Month is. For those who cannot be open with their identity, it can offer a moment of feeling seen, even if it must be done quietly for now.
How does being a part of the LGBTQ+ community inform your work? It provides me with an additional perspective, whether it’s in the language I use, or the visuals I create, or the ideas I bring to a team—it allows me to add another voice into a discussion (literal and metaphorical) that maybe wasn’t there before.
What advice would you give someone who wants to be a better ally to the LGBTQ+ community? Be respectful the way you would be to anyone else: Using someone’s pronouns, whether they’re in the room or not. Don’t ask invasive questions. If there’s actions to take that will keep the LGBTQ+ community safe, then take those actions if you’re able to. Let the community speak for themselves instead of trying to speak on their behalf. Overall, just be how you are normally are, but keep these sorts of things in mind.
Zachary A. Peterson (he/him): I currently serve as Eastman’s Associate Director of Graduate Advising and Services and enjoy working with our graduate students and faculty/staff colleagues. I am pursuing a doctorate in higher education from the Warner School, so much of my time is spent reading and thinking about various concepts explored in coursework and how it applies to Eastman and more broadly, music schools/conservatories. Outside of work and school, I enjoy reading, spending time with my chosen family (friends), FaceTiming my family (only get home about once a year), and spending time with my dog Riley. As summer is here and the sunshine has returned, you can often catch me at Marge’s Lakeside Inn over the weekend.
What is the importance of Pride Month to you? Look around the country—Pride Month is incredibly important this year as many humans’ basic human rights are at stake. In past years, I think it would have been more about “LOVE IS LOVE,” but this year (for me) is more about the activism necessary that is threatening the existence of what we hold dear.
How does being a part of the LGBTQ+ community inform your work?I spend a lot of time one-on-one with students. While most students meet with me to discuss academics, it is inevitable that we discuss other matters in their lives. I notice that Eastman has changed since my student days. In many ways, students are more open. I came out at a young age and relied on the support of my teachers and counselors in high school. It has happened where some graduate students don’t come out until they arrive at Eastman. This is due to a variety of reasons. Regardless of the reasons, I want to be a person that our students feel comfortable talking to and aim to provide resources available here at ESM and UR to be sure that they’re supported. This also applies to other things besides dealing with sexual orientation. I have been so fortunate to have had many supportive mentors and I just want to be able to pay that forward.
Lauren Sageer (she/her): Assistant Director of PR & Digital Content. I am a half-Italian, half-Lebanese queer woman in her 30’s with a bachelor’s in vocal performance and a master’s in strategic communication. Some of my simplest pleasures include perusing bookshops, spending time with family, sipping black coffee, listening to jazz, traveling to Europe as often as I can, and capturing portraits of others.
What is the importance of Pride Month to you? My first true understanding of the importance of Pride Month was in June of 2013. When Prop 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act were overturned that summer I was living in California with my then-girlfriend. Being free to walk hand-in-hand with her—alongside thousands of people in West Hollywood—while celebrating our acceptance by the highest court in America was one of the most moving experiences of my life. Now, ten years later, it is as important as ever to gather around the ebbs and flows of what it means to be an LGBTQ+ person in this country. In many ways our laws (and lawmakers) have regressed since then, and yet, it seems as though society itself is more open, nurturing, and understanding of queer youth than it’s ever been. And that’s what Pride Month is about to me: beyond the parties and parades, it’s about honoring how far our community has come and how far we have yet to go.
What advice would you give someone who wants to be a better ally to the LGBTQ+ community? I wish there was some profound advice that I could offer here, but the truth is, being an ally is the simplest thing a person can do. Just accept your fellow humans for who they are, whether you understand them or not, and treat them with the utmost kindness and respect.
Where would you point incoming students looking for LGBTQ+ support and community? (At Eastman/UR, in Rochester, etc.) Understand that Eastman students don’t have to be siloed from students on the River Campus! There are many gatherings and clubs going on through UR, and I’ve always found that getting involved with my community is crucial to my sense of identity. If group activities aren’t your thing, my door is open to any student who needs to talk. Let’s meet at Java’s for a chat!
Gerry Szymanski (he/him): Reserves and Digital Services Librarian. Outside of my work at Eastman, I am very connected to the ImageOUT film festival, and I have been managing the (now) Lilac Library of LGBTQ+ materials for about 20 years now. I have also been involved with the Shoulders to Stand On film documentary and the Rainbow Dialogues community conversations.
What is the importance of Pride Month to you? Visibility: many folks think of LGBTQ+ people as ‘someone else.’ Pride allows our community to be visible, to come out as friends, neighbors, and co-workers.
What advice would you give someone who wants to be a better ally to the LGBTQ+ community? Don’t be afraid to ask for permission to ask questions to be better informed about LGBTQ+ issues. Speak up and out when someone is being discriminatory. Support causes that support LGBTQ+ people.
Faculty and Staff Recommended Pride Events:
- Rochester Pride Picnic: Sunday, July 9, 2023
- Rochester Pride Parade and Pride Festival: Saturday, July 15, 2023
For more information on these and other Pride celebrations, visit the Rochester Pride website.