NUTLEY, NJ - A dozen Nutley residents stood in a circle each holding a candle on the Nutley Public Library’s lawn on Wednesday evening, Nov. 20. Nutley resident Rhonda Frobose led a Transgender Day of Remembrance vigil, one of many held that day throughout the United States.

The candles were lit one by one as 30 names were read by the participants of those whose lives were taken this year in the United States. With the reading of the names, the date of their killing, where and how they were killed was also read out loud.

Frobose ended the vigil with a reading of Maya Angelou's poem "Human Family” and announcing she is the executive director of the new NutleyPride-LGBTQ+ Advocacy Group. The vigil was a last minute decision Frobose and advocacy assistant director, Patrick Koslecki made on Facebook.

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Frobose said she saw the need for the group in Nutley and although Nutley High School has a Gay Straight Alliance club it’s not enough to break the hate. “Patrick and I decided to have an organized group of LGTBQ members and allies. […] As you know Nutley is an exclusive town,” she said.

According to the press release, NutleyPride LGBTQ+ Advocacy Group membership is open to any current or former Nutley resident, property owner, business operator or Nutley employee. The group is organized to bring together the community, sponsors, residents and allies, for events regarding LGBTQ+ representation and inclusion in Nutley.

The group will be promoted through social media outlets including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Nutley residents, Paul Frene and Gene Cavazos of the Essex County LGBTQ Advisory Council, attended the vigil and offered Frobose their help in building up the group.

Members can attend discussions in a safe space with opportunities for networking. Plans of Nutley LGBTQ+ related events will also be shared.

On June 6, Frobose went to the Nutley Board of Commissioners public meeting requesting that the month be recognized as LGBTQ+ Pride Month. During that meeting she said, “Not only to celebrate pride but to let their citizens know that they have the right to exist. […] This is really important, this is a life and death issue,” she said.

Frobose also said at that meeting her child, a 2017 NHS graduate, defines as transgender non-binary. “[They] almost didn’t graduate, because it was very difficult for my child to go to school every day. When you question your own existence because of the chatter that you hear on a daily basis, not necessarily even directed at you, walking through the hallways at school, it’s difficult to get out of bed every day,” she said.

Mayor Joseph P. Scarpelli responded with a proclamation at the following June 18 meeting. Commissioners Thomas J. Evans and Mauro G. Tucci also joined Scarpelli in signing the proclamation.  Frobose had the support of over 50 residents in attendance at that meeting to hear the reading of it.

To become a member of NutleyPride LGBTQ+ Advocacy Group or for more information, contact Frobose at RhondaNutleyPride@gmail.com or Koslecki at PatrickNutleyPride@gmail.com.

See related stories:

 Resident questions the lack of LGBTQ Pride Month in Nutley;

 Nutley Proclaims June as Pride Month;

Two Nutley Commissioners Questioned on LGBTQ+ Pride Month Proclamation.