Martha Wash to headline the 10th Annual LGBTQ Pride Festival in Maplewood

North Jersey Pride stage 2019
North Jersey Pride stage 2019

North Jersey Pride Announces a Full Month of Events

Martha Wash blowing a kiss
Martha Wash (Photo by Mike Ruiz)

North Jersey Pride returns to Memorial Park in Maplewood on Sunday, June 12th from 12-6pm, with an outstanding lineup of talent. This year they will feature Martha Wash (Weather Girls, C+C Music Factory, Black Box) on the festival stage. Also appearing will be Ali Caldwell (NBC’s The Voice, Fox’s Final Four), two-time Grammy-nominated jazz artist Alphonso Horne, plus Antigone Rising, Tony Award-winner Britton Smith, the New Jersey Gay Men’s Chorus, Harmonica Sunbeam, MuMu, with Scott Nevins (Bravo TV’s The People’s Couch) returning to emcee the day.

PNC Bank will return as the 2022 Presenting Sponsor. “After a challenging couple of years, we couldn’t be more thrilled to be back in Memorial Park, live and in person, to celebrate 10 years of North Jersey Pride,” said executive director C.J. Prince. She added that more than 10,000 attendees are expected to come out and enjoy the day. “At a time when our community is facing considerable challenges and anti-LGBTQ legislative attacks across the country, we look forward to showing up for our vulnerable youth, creating space for them, and reminding them they have an entire community of both LGBTQ and Ally individuals behind them and that they are loved just as they are.”

The interactive stage in the Rainbow Kids Zone will return this year with a full day of programming starting at 12pm. Shows and activities at the interactive stage will include: Mad Science’s “Fire & Ice,” the Lizard Guys, Prof. Harry Hocus’s Magic Act, martial arts class, a foam party — and more!

A full Month of Pride will take place in the midst of a month full of events. Events sponsored by North Jersey Pride coming up soon include:

6/8: “Let’s Talk About Gender,” a panel discussion with experts, parents and youth at Columbia High School

6/10: The “Big Queer Prom” for youth and families, cosponsored by Maplewood Arts & Culture and Rainbow Youth Alliance

6/16: Outdoor Movie Night: Screening of But I’m a Cheerleader at Waterlands Park in South Orange

6/17: Pride Night with the Mets at Citi Field

6/24: Drag Dance Party, cosponsored with Maplewood Arts & Culture

The 2022 Vanguard Award will be presented to Gary Paul Wright and the nonprofit he cofounded 22 years ago, the African American Office of Gay Concerns (AAOGC), which has proudly served the greater Newark area for two decades by offering health programs & services to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. Gary has been active in the fight against HIV/AIDS since the mid-‘80s, when he began as a “buddy” for Gay Men’s Health Crisis in New York City, and first noticed the disparity in the level of care provided to LGBTQ people of color. He has since devoted his life to bridging that gap. The award will be presented at the festival on Sunday, June 12th.

The 2022 Barbra C. Siperstein Trailblazer Award, which recognizes champions of transgender rights and equality, will be presented to Leslie Farber, an attorney and long-time friend of Babs Siperstein. Leslie is a longtime advocate for transgender rights (as well as equality for the larger LGBTQ community) and helped to pass what has now become known as “The Babs Siperstein Law,” which allows transgender individuals to change the gender marker on their birth certificates. The award will be presented at the festival on June 12th by Barbra’s daughter, Jana Siperstein-Szucs.

This year’s Outstanding Ally Award was presented to Sheryl Lee Ralph, acclaimed veteran of film, television and the Broadway stage, and most recently, star of ABC’s hit sitcom Abbot Elementary, in recognition of her decades-long support for LGBTQ equality, her tireless work around AIDS/HIV advocacy and education, and her willingness to be unabashedly outspoken about inequality in all its forms. The award was presented at North Jersey Pride’s gala, the Say Gay Soirée, on June 3rd.

North Jersey Pride is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that produces events and activities to promote inclusivity, equality, awareness, and understanding in the upper Garden State. NJP produces the North Jersey Pride Festival on the second Sunday in June, as well as a week of activities leading up to the Festival. the activities bring LGBTQ individuals and straight allies together to learn about one another and celebrate our unique identities. We further aim to empower young people to become pro-active citizens; businesses to become active community partners; and families of all make-ups to become allies for one another. Our unique Pride Festival offers safe, family-friendly entertainment and fun for all. Throughout the year, North Jersey Pride works in partnership with LGBTQ leaders in their campaigns for more stringent anti-bullying laws and for full marriage equality in the state of New Jersey.