Rochester loses local LGBTQ+ pioneer and historian Evelyn Bailey

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) – It’s a sad day in Rochester as many are mourning the loss of a local LGBTQ+ pioneer, and historian. Evelyn Bailey passed away Wednesday morning leaving behind a legacy of change for the community.

News10NBC talked to people who worked alongside Bailey who meant so much when it came to keeping the LGBTQIA+ community’s history alive over the past 50 years.

"What I’m going to miss most though is her friendship, and her willingness to be there for the community," said an emotional Harry Bronson hours after Bailey’s passing. The Assemblyman says the community lost more than just a person but also lost an educator, political activist, and historian. Bailey wore many hats while actively fighting for their community’s civil rights.

"She was a very determined person who strongly believed in the early days of our movement. That visibility was vitally important for us to gain the respect that everyone deserves, but our community was not receiving you know in the 70s, and the 80s," said Bronson.

Bailey’s death comes just weeks after Monroe County Executive Adam Bello declared July 14 as "Evelyn Bailey Day." Susanna Speed, Co-chair of the Roc Pride Collective calls Bailey a force that changed lives.

"She was instrumental in getting the history of the LGBTQ community, and the struggle, and the triumphs into the archives. She did a lot of work with the library," Speed.

Her passing also happened during the Pride Celebration going on this week in Rochester. Speed says her legacy will not go unnoticed this weekend.

"I know that we’ll probably do some sort of silent moment, or honor for her at the Festival. So she will be there in spirit I’m sure," said Speed.

Bronson added this about Bailey saying, "Evelyn is someone who has done so much for our community through several decades, and you know we’re going to miss her, but her legacy is going to live on because of the work she has done."

According to the Out Alliance website, Bailey was a math teacher for 30 years and was the owner of a small business. Bronson tells us she died following a short illness.

His office also confirmed that a Celebration of Life for Bailey is scheduled for Sunday, July 24th, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center.