ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The Rochester community is mourning the loss of LGBTQ+ advocate Sue Cowell.
In an interview with the University of Rochester in 2012, Cowell talked about her move to Rochester in 1977, when she began work at the U of R.
Describing the AIDS epidemic in Rochester, Cowell worked to promote HIV and AIDS awareness and treatment. She helped work to establish the Rochester Area Task Force on AIDS, and AIDS Rochester, which is now known as Trillium Health.
Dr. William Valenti, the co-founder of Trillium Health, recalls how much Cowell has made a difference in the lives of many people as an “AIDS Warrior.”
“She was a mover and a shaker, and she was on top right from the beginning,” said Dr. Valenti. “She wanted to get people tested and she wanted to overcome the stigma.”
Cowell also served as President of the Gay Alliance in 1978, as well as the Rally for Human Rights, which was held that same year. The University of Rochester said the rally was held in anticipation of Anita Bryant’s upcoming visit to Rochester.
“She was an incredibly dedicated member of our LGBTQ+ community, and she helped lay the groundwork for so many efforts that continue today, especially here at Trillium Health,” said Trillium Health CEO and President Jason Barnecut-Kearns.
On Sunday, Mayor Malik Evans issued a statement, acknowledging the impact Cowell had on the community.
“I join with the Rochester community in mourning the loss of Sue Cowell, a fearless giant and a progressive voice who moved the needle of public opinion toward acceptance on important issues like women’s equality, LGBTQ rights, and public health. A social justice pioneer, Sue was recognized and awarded for her many efforts to build equality and justice. She leaves a shining legacy of advocacy and support of the cultivation of gay candidates and allies of the LGBTQ community, and for helping to make the city of Rochester one of the most LGBTQ-friendly communities in the country,” Mayor Evans wrote.
To watch Cowell’s full interview with the University of Rochester, click here.