Montclair Pride is a celebration in June, of course, but in addition revenue generated is invested back into year-round educational and community programming to create safe spaces and offer resources to LGBTQ teens, families, and seniors, as well as trans and gender non-conforming, nonbinary people of all ages. Out Montclair is unique among many organizations that produce Pride events, with support to the LGBTQ community happening all year.
Out Montclair activists say they are a forward-thinking organization nationally in terms of modeling how a modern LGBTQ organization should be organized to be effective. As a large New Jersey suburban town Pride organization, they feel a need to do more. This is at a time when they see the struggle and the ongoing threats happening in Florida, Texas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, and so many other places around America. The LGBTQ community — particularly drag and trans individuals — are under constant threat and the needs are real.
Even in New Jersey the threats to LGBTQ civil rights are real with active groups attempting to put the LGBTQ community “back in the closet.” The “Don’t Say Gay” moniker is spreading to many local towns in our state through book bans and drag show cancellations, and they are just beginning.
“This is especially urgent as anti-LGBTQIA+ forces attempt censorship, and shame, values against our overall community and that Out Montclair is now leading against,” the organization said in a press release. “When the Board of Education in Cedar Grove canceled the high school production of The Prom, the community turned to us, to activate messaging and support, and the decision was reversed.
“When some conservative residents in Glen Ridge tried to have books about and by LGBTQIA+ people banned at the public library, our coalition with residents and Out Montclair members in Glen Ridge organized a rapid response in earned media, in social media messaging, turning out a massive in-person rally covered by local, New York City, and state media. And when a trans young person tragically took their life in Bloomfield, Out Montclair was there — to show solidarity, raise funds, rally support, and turn out crowds for an organized march.
“The Out Montclair mission is building community for people who are marginalized, to create safe spaces so no one feels alone, to recognize how we are targeted for violence and build capacity through knowledge, resources, and in-person advocacy. We’re doing it by listening to people in the community and personalizing our offerings based on what they need, e.g. trans youth programming co-led by a mental health practitioner or athletic activities for LGBTQIA+ adults who prefer to be active rather than find community in a bar.”
Montclair Pride’s Board is building an educational content library (two more videos went up this month) to help individuals, families, local governments, small businesses, and other employers understand the unique issues in the LGBTQ community. They have access to expert guidance and support and pledge to be a guide for many local institutions, including the Board of Education, on how to address the many issues that face the LGBTQ community.