First Pride Parade In Princeton Planned For Saturday, June 22
PRIDE PARADE PROMOTERS: A large group of organizers and supporters of the first-ever Pride Parade in Princeton met at the Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice on Wiggins Street earlier in the month to help plan for the launching of the June 22 event. (Photo courtesy of the Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice)
By Donald Gilpin
Princeton’s first-ever Pride Parade will take place on Saturday, June 22, with participants starting at 11 a.m. at the Municipal Building and marching up Witherspoon Street before turning right on Paul Robeson Place and ending at the Family YMCA.
“We invite all to join us as our LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, asexual or allied) community and their friends, family, and allies march through the historic Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood and end up at a fabulous after-party at the Princeton YMCA,” said Chief Activist Robt Seda-Schreiber of the Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice, which is organizing the event.
“What better way to walk the walk (both literally and figuratively) of inclusivity and intersectionality than to bring together all of our beautifully diverse communities,” he continued. [Intersectionality refers to a person, group, or social problem affected by more than one discrimination or disadvantage.]
Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker (16th legislative district) emphasized the historical context and significance of this event. “Born from the Stonewall riots of 1969, the Pride March was first held in 1970 and has evolved year to year as a way for the LGBTQIA community to move in solidarity and fight for civil rights while celebrating love and community,” he said.
“This year, that same spirit will pour through the streets of Princeton,” he continued. “Each step taken will be a memorial to those who came before, a celebration of our LGBTQIA community today, and a promise of a future where every person can live freely as their true self. I am both humbled and honored to be a part of this inaugural march as we walk together with a common message that hate has no place in New Jersey or anywhere else in our great country.”
Princeton was host to the first same-sex marriage ceremony in Mercer County, officiated by Mayor Liz Lempert, and the town has implemented a number of LGBTQIA-friendly policies in recent years, including trans-inclusive health benefits and job advertising to promote diversity in the workplace.
The Princeton Council is currently
developing an ordinance to convert all single-stall facilities in the municipality to all-gender restrooms, and is working with the Civil Rights Commission to increase inclusion.
“I hope that every resident feels a sense of belonging,” said Mayor Lempert. “We must work together to create a community that is free from hate and safe for all — no matter a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. I’m looking forward to Princeton’s first Pride Parade and everything it symbolizes.”
Other community leaders also weighed in. “Princeton has been known as a welcoming community for a long time, one that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive, a community that involves and respects all its residents,” said Councilwoman Leticia Fraga. “Thanks to the Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice, we can assert that it includes our LGBTQIA community.”
Princeton Record Exchange owner Jon Lambert noted, “Princeton Record Exchange has always tried to welcome all who share our passion for music. We are proud to co-sponsor this event with hope that it will help spread this spirit of inclusiveness everywhere.”
Artist/activist Andre Veloux added, “So happy to see the leadership of the Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice is bringing the long overdue Pride celebrations to Princeton.”
Noting the significance of the concurrence of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising and the first Princeton Pride parade, Seda-Schreiber stated, “In honor of these concurrent events we will sashay and strut in the delight of how far we have come, as much as we will march in solidarity of how far we have yet to go. It also should be made crystal clear what this means to our LGBTQIA youth. There is absolutely nothing like seeing one of our kids fully embraced in a sea of love and acceptance, indeed the first time for many of them.”
Registration deadline is June 3 for businesses and nonprofits participating in the June 22 inaugural Princeton Pride Parade. More information on how to march, participate, donate, and volunteer is available at rustincenter.org/pride-parade.