Arts & Culture Community Maplewood South Orange

SOMA CELEBRATES PRIDE 2019 & Stonewall 50 — Full June Calendar!

From Maplewood Township NJ:

In honor of LGBTQ Pride Month in June and this year’s 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion, The Townships of Maplewood and South Orange have joined together for the Second Annual SOMA CELEBRATES PRIDE, a coordinated initiative to highlight and promote LGBTQ visibility and issue awareness, to foster safe spaces for affirmation and celebration, and to build community unity through diverse events and fun activities throughout the month.

Working in conjunction with non profit advocacy organizations, local community groups, advocates, and businesses, elected leaders, and student and other youth groups, including but not limited to SOMA Action’s LGBTQ and Student Leadership Committees, Maplewood’s Youth Advisory Committee, CHS Spectrum Club, RAD Kids, SOMA Justice, the South Orange Maplewood Community Coalition on Race, North Jersey Pride, Garden State Equality, the Hetrick-Martin Institute, WORDS Bookstore, the Maplewood Village Alliance, the Springfield Avenue Partnership, both branches of the Maplewood Memorial Library, Vanguard Theater Company, and Progressive Theatre Company, the two towns are hosting many events throughout the month.

Maplewood Township’s first out LGBTQ elected Committee Member Dean Dafis proclaims “The freedom to live openly, truthfully, and safely in our welcoming and inclusive sister towns in all of our diversity and intersectionality, to celebrate our triumphs, to honor those before us who made those possible, and to protest and call to action against the grave injustices and inequalities that remain, all of that is Pride.” He added, “in light of the 50th Anniversary of The Stonewall Riots and yet ironically during a time when the LGBTQ community is under attack and hate crimes on the rise, we need to be even more visible, active, vigilant this year and protective of our beloved community.”

Dafis worked very closely with many organizers of the SOMA Celebrates Pride Committee including youth groups and fellow local LGBTQ advocates and electeds, most notably pioneer activist and long time Maplewood resident, Stephen Mershon and Safe Schools Climate Culture and Anti Bullying expert and champion, Shannon Cuttle.  “On this historic anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion, it is essential that grass roots activists continue the long, slow, steady push for LGBTQ equality” said Mr. Mershon.  Cuttle remarked that “pride marches and events are an important part of celebrating LGBTQ+ history and human rights – visibility matters, showing LGBTQI+ youth that their lives matter by creating inclusive, welcoming, and affirming spaces in our schools and communities, and honoring their experiences increases acceptance, letting them know that they are not alone.”

Maplewood’s Office of Cultural Affairs Director, Andrew Fishman and his team tirelessly coordinated event bookings, sponsorships, and many other details including the creation of the SOMAPRIDE website and calendar: www.somapride.comMaplewood Cultural Affairs page Most of the events are either being sponsored or co-sponsored by Maplewood Township.

Pride kicks off in SOMA officially with quite possibly NJ’s only annual grassroots Pride March – The SOMA Equality March – and Rally beginning at 10 am on Sunday, June 2nd at Ricalton Square in Maplewood (across from Maplewood Train Station on Maplewood Avenue) and ending at the steps of the Municipal Building (574 Valley St) with flag raisings, special guests, speakers, and keynote Ann Northrop, an LGBTQ icon.  Immediately following the March & Rally, the 1st Annual Youth Pride and Family Picnic (organized by students and youth groups for youth and families) welcomes all at the Gazebo by the Hilton Branch of Maplewood’s Memorial Library on Springfield Avenue from noon to 3 pm for good family fun.  Both events are free, open to all, and rain or shine.

A complete list of all confirmed events at this time, is:


  • Pride Run – June 1st, 8:00 AM – 11:00 AM (annual) 5K and kids race
    North Jersey Pride 
    Grove Park, South Orange. Race starts at 9 am, kids race at 10 am; post 5K brunch hosted by the Fox & Falcon (South Orange) from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm, all are welcome; ticketed event, online registration closed; in person payment available
  • Equality March & Rally – June 2nd, 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM (annual)
    SOMA Action LGBTQ Committee 
    NJ’s only annual PRIDE grassroots MARCH! Gather at Ricalton Square (across from Maplewood train station on Maplewood Ave.) at 9:30am for poster making and flag raisings, then march through Maplewood Village to the Maplewood Municipal Building steps for a kickoff Pride Rally with speakers and special guests, including keynote Ann Northrop,  and the ceremonial raising of the Pride and Transgender Flags. FREE event, all ages, all welcome, rain or shine.  Poster making supplies available on site.
  • 1st Annual Youth Pride & Family Picnic – June 2, 12:00 PM – 3:00 PM – NEW
    SOMA Action Student Leadership Committee, SOMA Action LGBTQ Committee, CHS Spectrum Club, CHS Student Council, Maplewood Youth Advisory  Committee, Hetrick-Martin Institute Newark. First Annual SOMA Youth Pride and Family Picnic will be held of the Gazebo next to the Hilton Branch of Maplewood Memorial Library across from Maplecrest Park off Springfield Avenue.  The event was created by youth for youth and families with student and group performances, bands, games, activities and all kinds of family fun. Bring a blanket and or packed lunch, food trucks will be available, FREE pizza (first come first served), water & snacks.  At approximately 12:15 pm the Pride and Transgender Flags will be raised for the first time ever on Springfield Avenue. FREE event, open to all and all ages, rain or shine.
  • PRIDE Kickoff Cocktails at The Cassidy – June 3, 8:00 PM – 11:00 PM – NEW. Maplewood. Special cocktails and menu items. Open to all.
  • NJ Pride 2019 DRAG Show – June 7, 8:00 PM – 11:00 PM (annual) Vanguard Theatre Company. Maplewood’s Burgdorff Center; ticketed event, contact organizer:
  • Preschool Book Club – Who Are You? – June 8, 10 AM – 12 PM – NEW. SOMA Justice & South Orange Maplewood Community Coalition on Race. Discussion of Gender Identity and Expression; FREE event, open to all parents/caregivers and children – birth to 6 years old. Le Parc Place, 195 Maplewood Ave, Maplewood.
  • Pride Fest 2019 – June 9, 12:00 PM – 6:00 PM (annual) North Jersey Pride. Maplewood Memorial Park; FREE event, open to all.
  • Know Your Rights Training – June 12 – 7:30 pm – 9:30 PM – NEW. SOMA Justice. Maplewood’s Burgdorff Center; FREE event, open to all.
  • A Conversation with Darnell Moore – June 13, 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM – NEW. North Jersey Pride & Words Bookstore. Words Bookstore; FREE event, open to all.      
  • Youth Pride Storytelling – June 15 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM – NEW. Casting is on June 2 from 1pm – 4 pm at Hilton Branch of Maplewood Memorial Library. Nathalie Farfan. Maplewood’s Burgdorff Center; FREE event, open to all.
  • Pride Under the Stars! – June 15, 8:00 PM – 11:59 PM – NEW. North Jersey Pride. Outdoor Dance Party on Sloan Street, South Orange; ticketed event, contact organizer:
  • Preparation for Aging – June 17, 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM – NEW. Garden State Equality in partnership with SOMA Two Towns for All Ages. Presentation at The Woodland, Maplewood; FREE event, open to all, lunch provided, reservations
  • Lavender Graduation – June 18, 7:30 PM – NEW. Sponsored by SOMA Action LGBTQ Committee, Spectrum Club, and Township of Maplewood.  Maplewood Township Committee hosts LGBTQI+ identified and allied CHS graduating seniors — or any graduating senior from any school who lives in South Orange or Maplewood — to honor with special certificate and rainbow colored tassels or color guards, registration required: (June 2nd deadline)
  • From Selma to Stonewall – June 20, 7:00 PM – 10 PM – NEW. North Jersey Pride. Documentary showing and talkback at The Woodland, Maplewood; ticketed event, contact organizer:
  • SAGE Table – June 21, 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM – NEW. Garden State Equality in partnership with SOMA Two Towns for All Ages. Intergenerational table (dinner) and showing of GenSilent at The Woodland, Maplewood; FREE, open to all, dinner provided, reservations required
  • Cabaret – One Moment in Time w/Gregory Omar Osborne, June 22 and 23rd – NEW. Progressive Theater Company. Maplewood’s Burgdorff Center. Gregory takes us down memory lane with standards and personal stories of being an outsider that many LGBTQ persons can relate to.  Through song, Gregory will inspire and lead us to just ‘live our lives, damn it.’ Ticketed event; proceeds benefit Progressive Theatre Company; contact:
  • Arlene Stein – June 24, 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm – NEW. Words Bookstore. “Unbound: Transgender Men and the Remaking of Identity.” Book talk and signing with author, Words Bookstore, Maplewood; FREE event, open to all.
  • Pride in the Plaza – June 27, 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm. Maplewood Village Alliance. Ricalton Square in Maplewood. Pick up a bottle of wine and local take out and enjoy being outside in the summer with friends, family, and neighbors in celebration of our LGBTQ community.  FREE and open to all.  Donations will be accepted for RAIN Foundation of Essex County which provides emergency homeless shelter and social services to homeless LGBTQ youth in Newark.
  • Rainbow Pop Up Dinner – June 28, 7:00 PM – 11:00 PM – NEW. Progressive Theatre Company & Springfield Avenue Partnership. Pride-themed outdoor communal table, full dinner, dancing & entertainment inspired by international Diner en Blanc, Maplecrest Park parking lot (Maplewood); ticketed event, contact organizer, proceeds to benefit local charity providing independent living to persons with            disabilities – adult only event, alcohol served.
  • Carl Ellis Photography & Photo Booth in partnership with Mona Lisa Framing – throughout the month! – annual. Carl Ellis Photography and Photo Booth Studios are offering a Family Photo special for LGBTQ families throughout June! Make an appointment and come prepared to strike a pose for a 15 min session – wear your rainbow colors! You’ll receive a 5×7 print for $30. Longer sessions available at 25% discount.  Special LGBTQ Family Day on June 22nd. Have your prints framed at Mona Lia Framing (right next door). They are offering a 50% off sale on select frames for Carl Ellis customers. Bookings:

ALSO of note are the following events in the area by our partners:

  • Princeton Pride Parade – Princeton’s first!, June 22nd, 11:00 AM. Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice (in Princeton).
  • Newark Gay Pride – July 11 & 14. Flag Raising at Newark City Hall, Thursday July 11 at 5:00 PM. Parade & Festival, Sunday July 14 from 12:00 PM to 8:00 PM

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