June 26, 2019

An Open Letter to the Community On Princeton’s First Pride Parade

To the Editor:

Princeton’s Inaugural Pride Parade was truly the historic moment we all hoped it would be, as significant as it was fabulous! Thousands of us marched, sashayed, and rolled up the beautiful Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood and then were all at once empowered and entertained at the wonderful after-party at the Y. Thank you to the Princeton Family YMCA for allowing the community to use your green space. 

Thank you to our town Council members Leticia Fraga, Eve Niedergang, Tim Quinn, Dwaine Williamson, and David E. Cohen; to our Mayor Liz Lempert; to Assemblyperson Andrew Zwicker; to Maplewood Councilperson Dean Dafis; and to our Governor and First Lady Phil and Tammy Murphy for putting boots on the ground and sharing inspirational remarks before and after the Parade.

Further kudos to our community members who shared the stage with our elected officials — 11-year-old activist Mani Martinez, who brought us all to tears and then left us chanting her name; Frank Mahood, who dropped some important local history as he told of his personal journey and how it was helped along by the formation of Princeton’s first gay rights organization, Gay People Princeton; and Hendricks Davis, who sang us all to the stage and opened us up to the beautiful sentiments that were to follow. Our Grand Marshal Mike Hot-Pence and our Queen Lady Victoria Courtez represented perfectly and we couldn’t have asked for better syncopation for our mobilization than the delightful Philadelphia Freedom Band!

But by far the most love and respect goes out to the thousands-strong community members who came out locally, from across all corners of our great state, and indeed beyond our borders as well (Brooklyn in the house!). The love that carried this day was brought by you and we only served to amplify it.

Princeton’s first Pride Parade would not have been the truly magical day it was without the incredible foundational support of community, business, and religious leaders, our own BRCSJ volunteers (over 50 strong!), and, of course, our Fire, Safety, Health, and Police Departments who went above to serve, protect, and sashay! Names too numerous here in print but expect a hug very soon each and every one of you, and please know that you helped to create something extraordinary that will carry on for years and years to come. 

We invite our entire community to celebrate the success of our mutual efforts and to carry forth the message of love and inclusivity at our “Welcoming the Community Breakfast” on Friday, July 5 from 8-10 a.m. at BRCSJ HQ, 21 Wiggins Street. Please join us and allow us to truly show our gratitude to our community for allowing us to be of service this day and every day.

Robt Seda-Schreiber
Chief Activist, Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice