June 19, 2024

Pride Parade, “a Joyful Lovefest,” is Ready to Step Out on Saturday

“MARCH, DANCE, ROLL, SASHAY”: The 2024 Princeton Pride Parade and After-Party will be taking place this Saturday, June 22, with participants marching from the Municipal Building on Witherspoon Street to the YMCA field on Paul Robeson Place for food, music, speeches, dancing, and more. This photo is from last year’s Pride Parade. (Photo courtesy of Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice)

By Donald Gilpin

“Marchin’ in Solidarity” and “Dancin’ in Celebration” the flyer from the Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice (BRCSJ) reads, as Princeton prepares for its annual Pride Parade and After-Party on Saturday, June 22, stepping off from the Princeton Municipal Building on Witherspoon Street at 11 a.m.

“The Princeton Pride Parade is a joyful lovefest of community celebration right here in Central Jersey,” wrote State Sen. Andrew Zwicker in an email Monday. “I am grateful to the Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice for their leadership and efforts to bring us all together and, as always, look forward to marching, dancing, singing, and chanting in solidarity as we recommit ourselves to defending the liberties of the LGBTQIA+ community.”

This year’s event, with a theme of “A Celebration of Queer Joy,” has been organized by the BRCSJ with support from Bristol Myers Squibb, the New Jersey Education Association, Kyowa Kirin, and the Leonard-Litz LGBTQ+ Foundation, as well as many other local businesses, community organizations, and individual donors.

“I am happy to see that we continue to recognize and celebrate Pride Month with this annual parade,” said Princeton Mayor Mark Freda. “We should all celebrate each other regardless of our differences. Thank you to all who will participate and/or watch.”

The marchers will proceed — “march, dance, roll, and sashay” according to the BRCSJ flyer — up Witherspoon Street, through the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood, turning right at Paul Robeson Place to arrive at the Princeton YMCA at about 12:30 p.m.

There will be tents and tables on the great field at the YMCA with food trucks, an array of vendors, arts and crafts activities, and a variety of presentations and entertainments.

Artist and photographer Walter Naegle, who was the partner of the late civil rights leader Bayard Rustin, will be the grand marshal of the parade. Headlining the After-Party entertainments will be singer-songwriter Jill Sobule, the first out queer musician to break into the Billboard Top 10 when she recorded “I Kissed a Girl” in 1995.

Other celebrities performing will include Mike Hot-Pence; Olive Joseph; drag queens ByancaRaye LoveStorm Prime, and Cissy Walken; and DJ John Morrison.

The first Princeton Pride Parade and After-Party took place in 2019, and subsequent parades since have attracted thousands of participants to march, gather, and celebrate. “In strength and solidarity,” as the BRCSJ flyer states, “respecting how far we’ve come and recognizing how far we have yet to go, angelic troublemakers assemble!”

BRCSJ Chief Activist and Pride organizer Robt Seda-Schreiber emphasized that this event is “more important and more necessary than ever before” with “the queer community under attack and our LGBTQIA youth more at risk like never before.” He continued, “Every Pride is someone’s first Pride. Every Pride allows folks from across the rainbow spectrum to see the potential and promise of how they can live their lives fully, who they can love openly and simply and beautifully, who they can be, and who they are. Pride saves lives!”

BRCSJ Board member Alan Muraoka, past Pride grand marshal and “Alan” on Sesame Street, urged everyone to get involved. “On Sesame Street we try to teach tolerance, acceptance, and love, and I am inspired by the mission and vision of all the good folks at the Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice, who are teaching the same values. Go out and march with them and tell all your friends and fam how to get, how to get, how to get to Princeton Pride!”

Erin Worrel, trans-activist and BRCSJ board president, noted her concerns over current events, but echoed Muraoka’s enthusiasm. In a year that has seen a tremendous increase in attacks on the safety and wholeness of trans and queer youth, I’m thrilled that Princeton Pride is back so we can celebrate in joy and community together,” she wrote. “I can’t wait to see everyone out on Witherspoon Street again.”

Visit rustincenter.org for more information on Princeton Pride and how to participate, march, donate, or volunteer.