The Student News Site of Ithaca College

THE ITHACAN

The Student News Site of Ithaca College

THE ITHACAN

The Student News Site of Ithaca College

THE ITHACAN

Support Us
$1260
$2000
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support The Ithacan's student journalists in their effort to keep the Ithaca College and wider Ithaca community informed. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

Pride Alliance centralizes Ithaca’s LGBTQ+ community through local programming

The+IPA+is+a+project+within+the+Tompkins+Chamber+Foundation%2C+a+not-for-profit.+It+partnered+with+the+TCF+for+a+fiscal+sponsorship%2C+which+means+the+TCF+assists+with+tax+and+legal+paperwork+and+setting+up+a+bank+account+for+the+organization.+
Photo Illustration by Molly Teska, Shelby Riley-Cherubin and Cole Jackson
The IPA is a project within the Tompkins Chamber Foundation, a not-for-profit. It partnered with the TCF for a fiscal sponsorship, which means the TCF assists with tax and legal paperwork and setting up a bank account for the organization.

Reusable bags were filled with donated clothing at the Community School of Music and Arts Feb. 3 as about 140 people showed up to support the “All Y’all Clothing Swap,” the opening event for the newly formed Ithaca Pride Alliance. 

The IPA was formally announced Nov. 15 to create more connection and community in Ithaca and Tompkins County among the LGBTQ+ community. The long-term goals of the IPA are to serve as a centralized organization for planning events, spreading information about LGBTQ+ programming and resources and providing education about the LGBTQ+ community. The board of the IPA consists of seven members involved in higher education, drag and LGBTQ+ programming, small business ownership and community initiatives.  

According to a system that ranks cities on a scale of 0 to 100 based on how well laws, policies and services serve the LGBTQ+ community, the Human Rights Commission gave Ithaca a 100/100. Ithaca has had a history of LGBTQ+ organizations and activism dating back to the late 1960s. The Student Homophile League was formed at Cornell University in 1969 and was the second public gay student organization in the United States. In 1984, Ithaca was one of the first U.S. municipalities to pass a law that banned discrimination based on sexual orientation. 

Crissi Dalfonzo, vice chair of the IPA and director for LGBT Education, Outreach and Services at Ithaca College, said there have been many conversations among organizers over the years about not having a centralized organization for the LGBTQ+ community in Ithaca. 

“We [didn’t] have anything for folks who aren’t affiliated with one of the higher education institutions,” Dalfonzo said. “Cornell [University] and [Ithaca College] both have resource centers on our campuses — which are wonderful and so helpful and so supportive for our students, faculty and staff — [but] if you are just a queer person that lives in Ithaca, you only have access to so many things.” 

Andrew Sheldorf is the chair of the IPA and a drag queen who performs under the name Tilia Cordata. Sheldorf said they have been active in the LGBTQ+ community for almost six years and said LGBTQ+ organizing has been very grassroots, but the IPA serves to connect different areas of programming in Ithaca to a centralized organization.

“I kind of acted as somewhat of the de facto leader of organizations that existed before the IPA that were more … unofficial,” Sheldorf said. “We didn’t really always touch base with each other or check schedules. I started calling together a loose group of folks four years ago to try to avoid … us planning events on top of each other and [to] try to put together a schedule of events.” 

Shelorf said they have experience in planning drag events in the Ithaca area and produce “Thursgays at the Range,” a biweekly show that consists of drag performances and queer DJs. Sheldorf also said they have co-chaired Drag Queen Story Hour, an event where drag queens read children’s books to youth, at Buffalo Street Books for the last five years. Sheldorf said it is important to have LGBTQ+ events that are for all ages. 

“All ages events allow youth and families and also people that are not interested in partying or drinking to be able to see actual queer people in the flesh,” Sheldorf said. “For youth, it’s important to have role models and people to look up to and be like, ‘That is a queer adult that is existing in space.” 

The IPA is a project within the Tompkins Chamber Foundation (TCF), a not-for-profit 501(c)3 that works to support the Ithaca community through initiatives that improve the quality of life for residents. Dalfonzo said the IPA was connected to the TCF through Sarah Barden, the Tompkins Chamber Liason for the IPA. 

“We were aware that [Barden] was a resource and we were aware that the [TCF] had a couple of sponsored organizations already,” Dalfonzo said. “So, when we were trying to figure out exactly how we were going to incorporate as a nonprofit, we are not yet at the point where we feel comfortable [filing as a nonprofit on our own].

Dalfonzo said the IPA partnered with the TCF for a fiscal sponsorship, which means the TCF assists with tax and legal paperwork and setting up a bank account for the organization. Dalfonzo also said that the partnership does not include monetary sponsorship and that the IPA relies on donations, sponsorships and grants for fundraising. 

“We are supported through [the TCF doing] the legal nonprofit work so that we can reach out to sponsors in town … to do things like pride and the clothing swap and events in programming that will serve the wider Ithaca and Tompkins County community,” Dalfonzo said. 

Dalfonzo said that because the IPA is so new, the organization has not gone through a full process of applying for grants but that the IPA wants to have grant sponsors for Pride Week in the next couple of months.

Sheldorf said the IPA partnered with local businesses like Mimi’s Attic and Buffalo Street Books to provide locations for clothing donations. There were also donation sites at the Ithaca College LGBT Center and the Cornell LGBT Center.

Shelorf said they have experience in planning drag events in the Ithaca area and produce “Thursgays at the Range,” a biweekly show that consists of drag performances and queer DJs. Sheldorf said it is important to have LGBTQ+ events that are for all ages. 

Dalfonzo said Ithaca College donated clothing racks and tables to the IPA for the clothing swap, so the organization could focus on advertising and recruiting volunteers for the event.

“It’s a really great example of [the college’s] commitment to the town of Ithaca, as well as our students, faculty and staff,” Dalfonzo said. 

Dalfonzo said the IPA connected with several local organizations involved in LGBTQ+ programming, including Planned Parenthood, the Advocacy Center in Ithaca and the Volunteer Lawyers Project for Central New York. 

Mallory Livingston, LGBTQ+ rights program director at the Volunteer Lawyers Project for Central New York, said the organization provides free legal representation to LGBTQ+ persons who are facing discrimination. Livingston said the most popular service the organization provides are free name changes for transgender individuals. 

“We thought we would be doing about 40 [name changes] a year when we started the program, [but] we are doing over 250 and we have a waiting list,” Livingston said. 

Livingston said the IPA is beneficial because it has connected various LGBTQ+ organizations in Ithaca and has improved communication throughout the town.

“We do a name change clinic twice a year at the LGBT resource center at Cornell [University] and it is almost always just Cornell students,” Livingston said. “Recently that sort of expanded to include some Ithaca College folks, but we really want it to include everybody in Tompkins County, so we are hoping events like this will help expand that.”

Tina Coyne volunteered at the clothing swap and said she moved to Ithaca in December because she accepted a job to be the assistant director of the LGBT Resource Center at Cornell University. Coyne said the LGBTQ+ community is very loud and expressive for the size of Ithaca. 

“I know sometimes in smaller communities there are less folks that are involved,” Coyne said. “But it seems to me that there is a very strong and intentional community being built here, and I am very excited because I don’t have to look very hard to find [LGBTQ+] people.” 

 Coyne said events like the clothing swap are important because they allow people going through change or transition to have access to gender-affirming clothing at no cost. 

“It is incredibly empowering for people to be able to come to a place like this where it is very affirming,” Coyne said. “For children or for young adults or even folks that are later in adulthood … I do think having access to something like this can be really life-changing.”

Ithaca College sophomore Silas Belmonté said he was surprised that there was not an organization like the IPA in the past, considering how LGBTQ+ friendly Ithaca is.

“My roommate told me [about the clothing swap] and my roommate is also trans,” Belmonté said. “I’m a poor college student who loves thrifting, and what is better than thrifting when things are free? Donating my old stuff to where people can wear it is also a nice feeling of repurposing.” 

Belmonté said that there are many beneficial LGBTQ+ resources in Ithaca and that the community is doing a great job to support members of the LGBTQ+ community.

“[The support] does not make itself hidden,” Belmonté said. “If someone is actively needing support, it’s pretty easy to access and pretty easy to find it.” 

Sheldorf said the IPA’s next goal is to plan Pride Week 2024. Sheldorf said the IPA will be in charge of programming and planning for Pride Week and wants to ensure there will be engaging events throughout the week. 

“If folks are interested in getting involved, there is a sign-up on our website,” Sheldorf said. “[The sign-up] will send a form that lets us see what you would be interested in getting involved with. … There will be volunteer opportunities throughout the spring and into the fall.”



Leave a Comment
Donate to THE ITHACAN
$1260
$2000
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support The Ithacan's student journalists in their effort to keep the Ithaca College and wider Ithaca community informed. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Ryan Johnson, Assistant News Editor
Donate to THE ITHACAN
$1260
$2000
Contributed
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Ithacan Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *