Arts & Culture Community Maplewood South Orange

9th Annual North Jersey Pride Festival Returns to Maplewood June 9

From North Jersey Pride:

North Jersey Pride, the nonprofit dedicated to promoting equality, acceptance, and respect for LGBTQ youth and families in New Jersey, returns to Memorial Park in Maplewood on Sunday, June 9th with an outstanding lineup of national and local talent, featuring headliners Gia Woods, Leland, and Leah Jenea; plus Antigone Rising, Metropolitan Community Church Choir, Harmonica Sunbeam, Joanna Young, Paper Mill Show Choir and Damien Crawford. Scott Nevins (Bravo TV’s The People’s Couch) will emcee the day. The interactive kids stage will return this year with all new entertainment and activities starting at 12pm in the Rainbow Kids Zone.

2019 Award Recipients

  • This year’s Outstanding Ally Award will be presented to Sara Cunningham, the mother of a gay son who was sad to learn how many parents were not attending their children’s same-sex weddings. In a very public Facebook post that quickly went viral, Sara offered to be a “stand in” mother at weddings. In 2017, she founded Free Mom Hugs, a nonprofit that provides support and resources to LGBTQ people and their families.
  • The 2019 Vanguard Award will be presented to the Stonewall Veterans Association, whose courageous members were at the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion that started the modern LGBTQ movement for equality. The Stonewall Veterans will be on hand to accept the award.
  • A new award will be introduced at this year’s festival to honor Barbra “Babs” Siperstein, who dedicated decades of her life to serving the LGBTQ community and most recently helped pass what has now become known as “The Babs Siperstein Law,” which allows transgender individuals to change the gender marker on their birth certificates. She lost a courageous battle with cancer just two days after the law went into effect. This year’s award, honoring Babs’s many contributions, will be accepted by her daughter, Jana Siperstein-Szucs, and presented by a 12-year-old transgender girl, who was able to finally change the gender marker on her birth certificate, thanks to the new law that Babs helped pass. Henceforth, the award will be known as the “Barbra Siperstein Trailblazer Award” and will recognize champions of transgender rights.

Although award ceremonies are not typical at Pride Festivals, they have become a highlight of the North Jersey Pride celebration. “By recognizing those who have made a difference in our community, we hope to inspire many more to get active on behalf of LGBTQ youth and families in New Jersey,” said C.J. Prince, executive director of North Jersey Pride.

Top sponsors make free admission possible PNC Bank will return as the 2019 Presenting Sponsor and Atlantic Health will once again be supporting at the Premier level. “We are so grateful to our sponsors for their generosity and their loyalty,” Prince noted. “It is because of our sponsors’ willingness to give back to the community that we are able to make this incredible day free and open to all.”

A Full Month of Pride

The Festival will take place in the midst of a month full of events that include the Pride 5K; the SOMA Equality March and Youth Pride; the Annual Pride Cocktail Party, this year at The Cassidy; the Drag Show with Vanguard Theater; a reading with Darnell Moore at Words Bookstore; and a screening of “From Selma to Stonewall” followed by a Q&A with the film’s director hosted by WNYC’s Nancy Solomon.

New this year:

  • Pride Under the Stars – South Orange is closing down Sloan Street in the village for an off-the-hook dance party for 21-and-over. DJ, cash bar, specialty cocktails. Check here for more info.
  • The Festival Afterparty – Immediately following the Festival in Maplewood, head to Millburn’s Moonshine Modern Supper Club for dining, dancing and drag. Check here for tickets.

About North Jersey Pride: 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. Our 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.

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