It’s time to celebrate Pride

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Gay male couple kissing behind a rainbow flag

Pride up your life from Sussex to Toms River

Many Prides of New Jersey have persevered through the 2020 cancellations of Pride to bring you the celebrations many LGBTQ homes and communities need this year. Be they virtual or in person, Prides of 2021 are examples of perseverance through COVID-19 as the global pandemic continues to linger. Where some Prides are virtual, others are postponed, but many will be held in person.

Asbury Park
“Even though Asbury Park Pride is postponed until Coming Out Day in October, we will still have our annual Pulse Memorial and Project REAL benefit show June 13th at noon in the Visiting Nurse Association parking lot,” said organizer and activist Ethan Dayback of Neptune, NJ. Georgie’s Bar will also supply a beer truck as the host of the annual event.

The organizer spoke with the Visiting Nurse Association in Asbury Park and they are honored to host the benefit each year that raises thousands of dollars. Multiple Jersey Shore musicians like Blaise, David Ross Long, and Heather Hills are scheduled to jam out along with vendors and Drag Queens to help raise money in honor of Pulse Nightclub for Project R.E.A.L.

Project R.E.A.L. (Real Empowerment on All Levels) offers free social events that bring together the local young LGBTQ community helping build peer support. Project R.E.A.L. provides sexual health advocacy and also serves as a point of contact between the client and community resources such as housing, HIV and STD testing and therapy.

“We are at a point in the summer and the pandemic where we can coordinate this event safely and with the joy of queerness. Mask up and show up,” said Dayback.

Toms River
This is just one of many local Pride events that will take place. Billy Cardone, the Toms River Pride organizer and executive director of Exit 82 theatre company says this will be the biggest Pride celebration that Ocean County has ever seen.

“There has been such a level of hope and excitement versus the fear and unknown of 2020. Now that we have guidelines and boundaries, we can create within all of that,” said Cardone.

Toms River Pride will take place on June 13th from 11am to 5pm on Washington Street Downtown and welcomes all family and friends to celebrate not only surviving but thriving this Pride year.

“Exit 82 is based in a conservative town and we recognize that (for many reasons) the pandemic made a lot of people feel isolated, alone and silenced. We want Pride to be that reminder of how loud united voices can be. We want pride to be brighter than it ever was,” said Cardone.

Cardone is particularly excited for a performance by the notorious stunt Queen herself, Izzy Uncut, coming to Toms River Pride from the Big Apple.

Go to exit82theatre.com to become a volunteer, participate as a fundraiser, become an official Pride partner or vendor, and make your nominations for the inaugural Pride Advocate Award. Also, follow the @TomsRiverPride Facebook page for updates or to join in on the celebration remotely.

Sussex County
Sussex County Pride will be in person on June 12th and will hold amazing events from live music and speeches from community leaders to drag shows. Folks should also look out for the several local organizations that stepped up to have booths and volunteers throughout the rally space.

Sussex County Pride Rally 2021 flyer
Sussex County Pride Rally 2021

“Trying to organize an event for LGBTQ+ people in a rural area like Sussex County is difficult enough, and with the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve faced a different set of hills to climb than in years past,” said organizer Zoe Heath.

2020 Pride was cancelled for many, including Sussex. This will be the county’s third Pride rally. “We want to make sure the Sussex County Pride Rally is safe for everyone to attend, and we are lucky that we have had more people than ever before sign up to volunteer,” said Heath.

Sussex Pride maintains its three components of pride: Pride, action and advocacy. Organizers believe that these pillars keep their community focused, safe, and politically active.

The rally was founded to give access to queer youth of rural New Jersey. “Everyone is welcome, and we hope the Out in Jersey readers will come up to celebrate with us.”

For more information you may visit online: sussexcountypride.com.

Princeton (virtual)
Virtual Pride is also amongst us. Princeton Pride hosted by Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice (BRCSJ) will bring a multitude of online events for virtual Pride ‘21 Sat. June 12 at 7pm ET. The event will broadcast live from their Facebook page at RustinCenter.

Virtual Pride 2 flyer for 2021
Online Event: Virtual Pride 2

Organizer and Chief Activist at BRSJ, Robt Seda-Schreiber is thrilled to announce the virtual array of fabulous guest stars that will be in attendance for the 2021 Princeton Pride event, including Billy Porter, New Jersey Lt. Gov. Sheila Y. Oliver, NJ Attorney General Girbur Grewal, PA Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, PA Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, New Jersey Senators Cory Booker and Bob Menendez and many more. In addition, one of the co-hosts for the event will be BRCSJ’s own resident musician Jill Sobule.

“In 2020, we gathered over 10,000 sharin’ community at our first virtual Pride. 2021, you ain’t seen nothing yet!” Said Seda-Schreiber. “We will bring together our beautifully diverse communities across the country in a live extravaganza broadcasting internationally.”

The event will also incorporate dynamic in-person gatherings like “Pride Pop-Ups.”

“This year will be even bigger, better, badder, and more extraordinary,” said Seda-Schreiber. For more information go to: rustincenter.org, and follow on all social media platforms.

New Hope, PA/Lambertville, NJ
Other Pride celebrations include New Hope Pride AKA New Hope Celebrates (NHC) 2021. As you may expect, NHC will be celebrating Pride a little differently this year. Instead of a pride parade, NHC will be planning events people can safely experience throughout May and June.

New Hope Celebrates 2021 Pridefest flyer
New Hope Celebrates 2021 Pridefest

Although, NHC Pride Parade and Pride Fair will be postponed until 2022, so go to NewHopeCelebrates.com to sign yourself up for the 2022 action and prepare for May 13-15 New Hope / Lambertville PrideFest.

NHC anticipates Pride-filled joy at the annual Best Cocktail Contest, the May 8th annual Flag unfurling, several Drag Shows, a book club event, mental health events, cocktail socials, a Pride bike ride, and a Pride drive-in movie.

You can learn more at newhopecelebrates.com and follow on Instagram and Facebook. NHC encourages all participants to wear masks, social distance and support local businesses throughout the celebration.

Morris County
Look out for Morris County’s June 26th Pride celebration 11am – 3pm at the Morris Museum, 6 Normandy Heights Road.

Morris County Pride 2021 flyer, rainbow flag in background
Morris County Pride 2021

This year’s event will feature a full-day line-up of onstage performances from local musicians, Drag queen and kings, and even a magician!

At the event you are encouraged to social distance. Pride-goers are encouraged to buy tickets online at MorrisCountyPride.org.

Newark, Jersey City, South Jersey, & (virtual) NYC
Of course, the more Pride celebrations, the merrier. Check out more on the Virtual Pride celebration of NYC at NYCpride.org or Instagram: @nycpride, and look out for more on Jersey City Pride at Instagram @jerseycitypride, which will be held in late August. South Jersey Gay Pride is coming to Collingswood in mid-September. Newark Gay Pride week will take place between July 12-18, 2021, with much more information to come. Follow the Newark Gay Pride on Instagram @NewarkGayPride for updates. There are even more local Pride events in New Jersey. Visit our events page to get the latest.

Be safe, mask up, and enjoy a resilient 2021. Cheers y’all.