Celebrating LGBTQAI+ Voices: The Transformative Power of Art at GO ART!
In a world filled with vibrant colors and diverse communities, Gregory Hallock, the Executive Director of GO ART! (Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council), stands tall as a beacon of inclusivity and acceptance. Gregory's journey has taken him from small-town Delevan, N.Y. to the bustling streets of Hawaii, California, and New York City, ultimately leading him to Batavia, where his passion for the arts and his desire for a diverse and nurturing community converged.
Gregory's dreams are deeply rooted in fostering a society that celebrates diversity, culture, and the arts.
With a background in theater and a love for the creative world, he ventured to NYC and later Hawaii. Gregory pursued an arts management degree and embarked on a journey that led him to Buffalo, where he enrolled in graduate school at the University of Buffalo. His adoption of a baby girl named Cattaleya marked the beginning of a new chapter filled with love, ambition, and the unwavering determination to make a difference.
In 2016, Gregory joined GO ART! as the Assistant Director, later assuming the role of Executive Director in 2017. While living in Buffalo, Gregory encountered the challenges of balancing his personal and professional life. He was concerned about GO ART!'s financial stability and moving his diverse family to an unfamiliar community. As an interracial LGBTQ+ family, they faced unique circumstances that demanded a safe and accepting environment.
In 2016, Gregory joined GO ART! as the Assistant Director, later assuming the role of Executive Director in 2017.
While living in Buffalo, Gregory encountered the challenges of balancing his personal and professional life. He was concerned about GO ART!'s financial stability and moving his diverse family to an unfamiliar community. As an interracial LGBTQ+ family, they faced unique circumstances that demanded a safe and accepting environment.
With GO ART! gaining stability, Gregory realized it was time to bring the cultural aspects of his job to the forefront. He took a bold step by establishing the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, with a particular focus on LGBTQ+ inclusion through the GO OUT! (Genesee, Orleans OUT!) committee. This progressive initiative began partnering with OUT Alliance, the pride center in Rochester, NY, to transform GO ART! into a safe haven for the LGBTQ+ community.
In 2019, under Gregory's leadership, Batavia witnessed its very first pride parade!
With less than three weeks of organizing and marketing by the GO OUT! committee, the event attracted over 600 individuals, showcasing the community's unwavering support! The success of the parade caught the attention of the governor's office, and GO ART! was invited to march in World Pride in New York City. Gregory, accompanied by his loving family and a co-worker, proudly represented Genesee and Orleans Counties, leaving an indelible mark on the world stage.
Gregory's commitment to fostering a more inclusive society extended beyond his professional endeavors. In September of the same year, he expanded his family by adopting an exceptional four-year-old African American/Dominican boy. Fueled by his passion, Gregory collaborated with a lawyer to establish GLOW OUT! (Genesee, Livingston, Orleans, Wyoming OUT!) as a separate 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, distinct from GO ART!. By November 2019, GLOW OUT! obtained official non-profit status, with Gregory assuming the role of President. Since then, he has played an instrumental role in organizing multiple Pride festivals and parades.
The Gen Z Grant, funded by the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation
In 2020/2021, GO ART! received a grant from Gen Z, funded by the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation, to establish a center for teens. With a primary rule of no bullying, the center quickly became a haven for numerous LGBTQ+ teenagers seeking acceptance and support. Over half of the participants identified as LGBTQ+, a testament to the impact GO ART! had on the community. Continuing their mission of providing mental health programming for LGBTQ+ youth, GO ART! also collaborated with GLOW OUT!, GLYS (Growing LGBTQ+ Youth Support), and Genesee County Mental Health in 2022 to establish an LGBTQ+ youth support group. This collaboration emphasized the importance of holistic well-being and created a safe space for LGBTQ+ youth to express themselves freely.
The year 2022 brought forth new opportunities for collaboration...
GLOW OUT! applied for funding from GO ART! for the artistic components of their Pride festival. Gregory stepped down from the GLOW OUT! board with a heavy heart due to a conflict of interest. However, through his tireless efforts and the dedication of other volunteers, GLOW OUT! successfully hired an Executive Director, solidifying its commitment to serving the LGBTQ+ community.
Gregory's personal experiences have profoundly influenced his journey toward advocacy and inclusivity. Having grown up in a small town where coming out as a teenager seemed implausible, he is determined to create a different reality for the youth in his community. Gregory believes that no one should feel compelled to leave their hometown to embrace their true selves. His unwavering dedication to his family and the community fuels his passion for change.
The year 2023 dawned with a remarkable opportunity as GO ART! secured yet another grant!
A grant from Creatives Rebuild New York (CRNY) allowed them to hire ten full-time artists, known as the GLOW Creatives, who are dedicated to creating art programming for Fabulous Fourth Fridays at GO ART!. Each artist brings a unique vision and expertise to the table, aiming to amplify LGBTQ+ voices and experiences through their artistic expressions.
Some of these programming examples include:
- Collaborative murals
- Public sculpture
- Artistic workshops
- Indian Dance Workshops & Classes
- Ceramics throwing
- LGBTQ+ family portraits
Under the visionary leadership of Gregory Hallock, GO ART! has become a sanctuary for artistic expression, diversity, and LGBTQ+ inclusivity. Through festivals, parades, support groups, and grants, GO ART! and GLOW OUT! are reshaping the cultural landscape of Batavia and surrounding towns. Gregory's personal journey and unwavering dedication continue to inspire a wave of pride and acceptance, creating a better world for future generations to flourish.