Sunday June 4th dawned sunny and clear on Jersey Pride, Inc.’s 26th Annual Pride Parade, Festival, and Rally in lovely Asbury Park, New Jersey. The event has been held in this super-central New Jersey location since its inception and this year the crowds were even bigger than last year–and here’s why.
Ever since the Trump era has come in, LGBTQ people all over the country have felt the cooling and slowing of the change that was happening in leaps during the Obama administration. There is a difference, and those of us who remember the activism of the 1980s are happy to see that there are many of us, and our allies, who are not willing to let the calendar roll back our rights. Everywhere, though, there is increased violence and the bigots are emboldened by the Bully in Chief, whose attitude is very different from his predecessor, there is a surge of activism and people love their LGBTQ siblings, friends, and family.
This year, Jersey Pride’s numbers were even greater than before and we all came out in living color. When you are accustomed to living out loud, there is no turning back! And while Jersey Pride has seen some protestors over the years, this year, those who protested lurked near Convention Hall, with signs and chants, but those could not be heard by those celebrating their lives in Bradley and Atlantic Parks.
This year’s Parade and March included groups and organizations like Gay Activist Alliance in Morris County (GAAMC), New Jersey’s longest running continually active LGBTQ organization, Gay Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), and Garden State Equality–and that’s just the “Gs”! All generations and all ages marched in solidarity, past the churches on Grand Avenue, down Sunset Avenue, to make a grand entrance into the Festival and Rally area, where there were more than 200 vendors, groups and organizations. The headliner was Ultra Naté, and Reina performed as well, as Matt Martin and Gina Cutillo did the honors as MCs. New Jersey’s political folk interested in our votes spoke from the Rally Stage around mid-day and the rest of the day was devoted to acts like Chix Appeal making their debut, singer songwriter Steff Mahan, Virago, and Leo Martinez, and many more. There was truly something for everyone and with more than 30,000 people to please, and that’s saying something!
Organizers say there was a surge in attendance. Whether that’s due to the weather, the political climate, or the desire to celebrate Pride, it was a great day to be out. Considering that the anniversary of the tragedy at the Pulse nightclub has just happened, the need to come together and be together is magnified once more.
Celebrate Pride wherever you are and remember that World Pride is coming up soon in Madrid! I’ll meet you there!