Editor's note: This article first ran on April 26.
It started out in 2011 when friends C.J. Prince and Mary Alice Carr had the idea for a Pride Picnic in Maplewood to celebrate and show support for all families, gay and straight. By the following year, it had morphed into a full-fledged festival.
Now, three years later, the 2013 North Jersey Pride Festival will feature a week of events both serious and fun (and sometimes both) to unite the community of LGBT residents and supportive allies. The events will culminate in a day-long festival on Sunday, June 9 from Noon to 6 p.m. at Memorial Park in Maplewood.
The organizers hope the events will attract people from throughout the Garden State, to emphasize the importance of supporting Marriage Equality and LGBT youth.
"We had so much interest from other towns [that] it became clear we needed to expand our focus and mission--to widen the tent, if you will, so that people and families all over the state felt welcome and like this is their pride," said Prince, who is now the executive director of the non-profit North Jersey Pride.
Leading up to the festival will be a community discussion about bullying with the parents of Tyler Clementi at CHS; a LGBTQ author book signing at Words Bookstore; a Trans-Themed Movie Night, a "Coming Out" themed Story Slam, and a Dance for Equality.
"Pride is really fun and it's great to have a big party, but we'd like it to be more than that," said Prince. "We want people to learn about each other, to get to a place of greater understanding and acceptance, to feel united--like a community that is mobilized around shared goals of tolerance, respect and compassion. And we want our supportive straight allies to feel energized and motivated to get active on behalf of equality."
North Jersey Pride will be sponsored by the Township of Maplewood, with PNC Bank as the Presenting Sponsor and a host of other sponsors. More than 1,500 people are expected to attend. North Jersey Pride is partnering with other New Jersey-based LGBTQ organizations, such as the Tyler Clementi Foundation; the Hetrick Martin Institute’s HMI: Newark center for teens; and the Triad House.
Check out the new website for full information.
Here is the week's roster of events:
Mon., June 3: Kickoff Cocktail Party at Coda Kitchen & Bar
Tues., June 4, 7–9p.m. – “Engaging Families: Turning Bystanders into Upstanders” Joe and Jane Clementi, the parents of Tyler Clementi, will lead a community discussion about bullying at Columbia High School.
Wed., June 5, 7 p.m. “LGBTQ Author Signing for Young Readers” – [words] Bookstore
Tim Federle, Broadway performer and author of Better Nate than Ever, will read excerpts from his novel for young readers.
Thurs., June 6, 8p.m. “Trans-themed Movie Night” - St. Georges Episcopal Church
Award-winning director Rashaad Ernesto Green introduces a screening of his film, “Gun Hill Road,” nominated for the esteemed Jury Award at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.
Fri., June 7, 8:30p.m. “Coming Out”: An Open-Mike Story Slam
As part of Pride Week, Studio B will cohost a themed Story Slam with North Jersey Pride at the Burgdorff Center for the Arts.
Sat. June 8, 7pm-Midnight “2013 Dance for Equality”
North Jersey Pride’s fundraiser at the Maplewood Club, with award-winning DJ Steve Sidewalk, edibles by New World Catering and a fabulous, exclusive silent auction. Tickets: $50 advance/$60 door.
Sunday's festival will have a five-star food court featuring delicious eats from local restaurants, local vendors, plus live entertainment from Jessica Kirson, the Paper Mill Chorale, Midtown Direct Rep, the Lavender Light Choir (New York's only LGBT gospel choir) and the all-girl band Antigone Rising.
A Rainbow Kids section will feature a bounce house, face painting, arts and crafts, glitter tattoos, and a special art project run by Geralyn's Art Studio.
Patch will have more information to come about the week's individual events.