Rob Morris was one of the first people we interviewed when the site was started. Unfortunately, the video was lost for a while and we never had a chance to post the article… until now. While the full article is in our March Issue, we thought it was too good not to share on the website, so here is a sample for your enjoyment.
Tell us about yourself.
I’m currently the director of store operations at Outlandish Leather. I’ve been here since ‘05, and Rich has been here since 2001. The store’s been there since ’98, but was called Rochester Leather, then. I moved to Rochester in ‘93. I grew up in Missouri and Boston
What made you stay in Rochester?
I grew up in Missouri and Boston, and moved to Rochester in 1993. I was a Kodak baby and like most Kodak families, we traveled wherever Kodak took us. Getting through high school while living in Rochester, I was like “Wow, there is a big gay community here,” and I thought “Well, that’s me,” so I stayed.
On other levels, the art, culture, and history; I think when you’re younger you don’t always appreciate it, but when you’re older you start to see the George Eastman House, Monroe Ave., the House of Guitars. I have a lot of friends who have moved away and came back.
I don’t think I would have stayed here if I hadn’t had found a job like this. In 2005, I started working at Outlandish and writing for The Open Closet. It was sort of a gay trifecta; it kind of took over and I found my direction.
Prior to Outlandish, I worked at Pride Connection on South Ave., before they became Equal Grounds Cafe, I had spent all of my twenties in gay retail. I am very comfortable around porn (chuckles).
You and your store are a big part of Pride week in Rochester; how was this year’s Pride parade after the passing of equal marriage?
It was pretty awesome; I think it was a record setting. There were 79 participants in floats; usually there is half that amount. With the gay marriage bill in New York passing, a lot of people were out in support, and it was a big theme at the event.
The protesters were lame, not just because they were protesting, just because there were only four of them. It was really kind of sad, I almost felt bad for the four people yelling that gays should die. At one point one of them even gave up and walked off. We just outnumbered them.
Do you help organize the parade?
We do not; running the store is enough. The store supports the local gay alliance. We do the parade, festival, picnic, as well as doing different events with the youth group. We sponsor a lot of gay alliance events. By showing up we are helping them… plus giving them money, which always helps.
For the parade, we set up a booth and tent and built a float. I had like eighteen people with me on the float. I was in full drag in ninety degree weather, which is something I don’t recommend.
How is working at Outlandish?
The really incredible thing about working at a store like this is that, on the outside, people go ‘oh its rainbows,’ or ‘oh its gay porn’; but how many place can you go that is gay positive? I don’t know about you guys, but growing up, we didn’t talk about this stuff because it was impolite. I think that’s why many kids are, for lack of a better term, stupid and don’t engage in safe behavior or don’t know enough to pay attention.
Growing up, we had heard of STDs and AIDs so by the time we came of age we stopped paying attention because we had been around it all of our lives. But the numbers have not gone down; just because we stop talking about it doesn’t mean the problems are going away.
The way the political pendulum swings, we went through eight years of Bush. Now, I have nothing bad to say about Bush; I believe that even if you don’t agree with everything the president does, you still need to respect the position of president. I would not want to run the country. But for those eight years, we went through a period where you couldn’t say shit and people forgot to start talking about problems.
For that reason, it is a breath of fresh air to work here because we encourage people to talk about sex and about being gay and free with themselves. We don’t need to go backwards.
Read the rest of the article in our magazine HERE