This past Saturday was Jersey City's 9th LGBT Pride Celebration, organized by Jersey City Lesbian and Gay Outreach. Despite living here for a decade and a half, I'd never made it to one. New York's Pride celebrations, yes. New York's various Black Prides, including the era of dual and dueling ones, yes. Brooklyn Pride, yes. Pride celebrations in Boston, DC and Atlanta, yes. I'd even participated in readings, sat on panels and hosted workshops at some of these. But never here. So this year I made sure to pen in the date and not miss it.
There were a series of events leading up to Saturday, including a flag raising, various parties and a youth ball, including a get-together hosted by ChillFest, which runs year-round film series. Saturday's festivities began at noon, along a 3-4 block strip of Montgomery Street, all the way down to Exchange Place on the waterfront. Like many small city prides, Jersey City's is an affirmative, informal affair, with local business and not-for-profit organizations of all sorts setting up informational booths, a mainstage featuring performances, and lots of food. The morning began under heavy, gray clouds, and it was fairly cool and rained intermittently, but from what I could tell, the rain wasn't keeping that many people away. The performances were strong, and I personally didn't come across a single person who was unfriendly or full of attitude. One thing I especially enjoyed was seeing the diversity of people who were present: folks of every gender, race and ethnicity, economic background, age, family type, and so on, were out and about, a reflection of the city and of the region. Next year if I'm home and not traveling, I'll not only be here, but I'll volunteer.
A few photos of the events:
A member of the bowling league
Singer Dy'ari performing
The crowd at Exchange Place
Booths, looking towards Exchange Place
The St. Matthew's Lutheran Church booth
Another one of the booths
The founders of Benitza Arts, an eco-friendly clothing and arts company