NUTLEY, NJ - NJ Attorney General Gurbir Grewal made a surprise appearance at Nutley Pride's 'Chalk It Up To Love' event in Memorial Park Friday, June 26. 'Chalk It Up To Love' was a continuation of the ongoing chalking events in the township's municipal parks sharing messages of hope, encouragement, love, and pride as a part of Pride Month.
The Township formally proclaimed June 2020 LGBTQ+ Pride Month at the June 4 Board of Commissioners meeting. This was the second year that the township made the proclamation, the first was in 2019.
Hosted by 'Nutley Pride,' provided another opportunity for member of the LGBTQ+ community and their supporters and allies to come together and create something beautiful. Founders Rhonda Frobose and Patrick Koslecki were instrumental in organizing Friday's event. In the past they organized a candlelight vigil for those murdered members of the LGBTQ community.
Angelica Midolo, a board members of Nutley Pride, opened her remarks with a tearful telling of her coming out. Those assembled were so touched by her story, with nary a dry eye in hte crowd when she finished speaking.
Frobose began her remarks with "On June 18, 2019, Nutley’s Mayor Joseph Scarpelli read aloud Nutley’s very first PRIDE proclamation to a crowded town hall, tears and cheers. If you asked me last June, to envision where we’d be in June 2020, I’d picture it something like this – but without the masks. And without some of the extra tensions we feel today – as if there weren’t already enough tensions we experience on a daily basis."
"Pride has always been about expressing bravery during periods of unease," Frobose continued. "Look around. YOU. ARE. NOT. ALONE. You are LOVED. You are SUPPORTED.YOU ARE CELEBRATED!"
Nutley Pride's, Patrick Koslecki, told those assembled that "In honor of Pride Month, we are gathered here tonight to commemorate and celebrate the queer leaders who spawned the modern LGBTQ movement. For those of you who aren’t familiar, those LGBTQ leaders were black and brown men and women: our brothers and sisters who were on the front lines trying to change history."
Speaking specifically about Nutley's place in LGBTQ+ history, Koslecki said, "I have always been so proud of the allies and activists of this community, and in recent weeks, as social movements have become a part of the fabric of 2020, I am reminded of the promise and purpose the young people of this town have to offer, however, I am not surprised." He continued, "I know there are so many other parents like my parents in this town, parents who have instilled in their children that with grit and determination, with passion and a moral compass, we can reimagine our communities, bring change to our state, and transform our nation into the full embodiment of our founders promise: a country where yes, we do hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men, and women, and children, regardless of race, religion, orientation, or gender are created equal, and yes, we are endowed by our Creator, whoever he, or she, or they might be, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are life: a life to live with love and hope and pride for who you are, liberty: the liberty to stand up for real, transformative, equality, and the pursuit of your own, personal, beautiful, radiating, Happiness."
NJ Attorney General told the assembled group that "In this state, your rights will be protected," and then 'challenged' the by stating that "next year, I want to come back and see twice as many people."
Township of Nutley Mayor spoke briefly, thanking Nutley Pride, the Attorney General and those in attendance for coming out and supporting the community.
Grewal then stopped for photos with residents before grabbing chalk and leaving a message of support. His message reads, "Black Trans Lives Matter."
Members of the community who came out to support the LGBTQ+ community included Parks and Recreation staff, the Nutley Volunteer Emergency Rescue Squad, yoga celebrity Kim Stevens-Redstone, parents of kids of all ages, and just regular folks showing up to show support. Most of the chalk work is in Memorial Park in the area of the Mudhole near the intersection of Vreeland and Passaic Ave.
"Chalk It Up To Love" was Nutley Pride's last event for 2020 LGBTQ+ Pride Month. The event was held on June 26, the fifth anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges on June 26, 2015. The Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples by both the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.