Toms River will hold second annual LGBTQ Pride event on June 20
Exit 82 Theatre Company has plans for the Toms River LGBTQ Pride festival on June 20 this year. It will be very different than it was in its first year in 2019. Due to COVID-19 it is planned as a “drive-by” and “virtual” Pride event that the entire community will be able to participate in.
At the June 9th Rainbow flag raising ceremony at Toms River Town Hall and the Ocean County Administration Building local officials joined organizers to announce the plans. The occasion was marked by officials from Toms River Township, the police department, Ocean County Administration and Congressman Andy Kim of New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional District. Garden State Equality, PFLAG Jersey Shore, and other local LGBTQ folks joined in at the flag raising for additional support.
Continuing the tradition of paying homage to those who came before them, organizers honored the first Gay Pride Parade in New York City on its 50th anniversary year. Organizers are posthumously honoring Grand Marshal Marsha P. Johnson, the New Jersey born African American transgender activist who is credited with throwing the first brick at the Stonewall Riots. Johnson was instrumental in organizing the first Pride March in New York City.
Exit 82 Theatre and Toms River Pride stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement for racial equality, and a portion of all donations received from Toms River Pride will be donated to the Marsha P. Johnson Institute, whose mission protects and defends the human rights of Black transgender people.
“I’m thrilled to see that even in these tough times, we can come together to celebrate Pride right here in Toms River,” said Congressman Andy Kim of New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional District. “Since that day over 50 years ago at Stonewall, we’ve seen great progress made, but there’s still so much work to be done. We need to press the [U.S.] Senate to pass the Equality Act and state clearly that Black transgender women matter. Events like this, and groups like Exit 82 Theatre Company, are critical to ensuring the march towards progress and equality moves forward, and I’m proud to stand aside you in that fight.”
Exit 82 Theatre Executive Director Billy Cardone said, “With all that’s going, it’s important we remember that the tradition stands stronger than the party here in Ocean County. That’s why ‘TR Pride’ has been reconfigured to offer the community fun ways to participate throughout the day and into the evening.”
The Drive-by LGBTQ Pride course will open from 11 am to 1 pm beginning at the entrance of Hyers Street at Washington Street. Participants will pass through an adjacent parking lot while enjoying the festivities from their rainbow-decorated vehicles. Guests are encouraged to support local businesses participating nearby and to bring personalized statement signs demonstrating their support of Pride, which could be featured in an upcoming Downtown art installation.
Then from 5-9 pm, Virtual Pride participants will have an online platform for an engaging discussion on LGBTQ issues with Garden State Equality, and special performances by top New York City drag queen and Toms River native Izzy Uncut, Jan of RuPaul’s Drag Race fame, Lexington Banks, Asbury Park’s Milian Mafia, and more to be announced.
Toms River Pride is looking to feature stories highlighting local LGBTQ heroes and allies, which can be submitted any time via email at email@example.com.