LIVINGSTON, NJ — The Livingston Committee for Diversity and Inclusion (LCDI) collaborated for the second annual Pride Flag Raising Ceremony on Tuesday at the Oval, where the rainbow flag will fly for the entire month of June in honor of Pride Month.
Residents and supporters gathered at the flagpoles to celebrate the progress made and bring awareness to the work that still needs to be done to eliminate discrimination and violence against the LGBTQ community. Mayor Shawn Klein said he can think of no other issue over the last generation that shows the “capacity for goodness and understanding we all have.”
“A generation ago, exposure to homosexuality was limited to gossipy and shaming whispers that so-and-so was gay,” said Klein. “There was a parade that one might hear about in Manhattan, but it was strange and unrelatable and seemed almost dangerous.”
He added that few things are more fundamental to “understanding of ourselves as people” than an individual’s sexuality.
“Asking society to change its idea of gender roles, sexuality, and gender identity was a big ask—but it was the right question,” he said. “The issue of LGBT rights and acceptance, more than any other, has shown that people can change for the better, people can learn anew. Our world can get better.”
In 2015, the council initially approved the flying of the flag for the first week of June and this year approved the extension from one week to the entire month at the formal request of the LCDI. The council voted unanimously in favor of flying the flag on both occasions.
LCDI co-chair Billy Fine said one of the greatest feelings of hosting an event of this magnitude was the fact that it was not just a one-time thing.
“The town approving and assisting with the event last year was wonderful, but knowing that it is a lasting legacy which has transcended itself into a yearly tradition by both committee and township is a matter which I along with my fellow committee members take great pride in," said Fine.
In keeping with the theme of diversity and inclusion, the Livingston Township Council recently adopted a resolution expressing the township’s commitment to remaining a fair and welcoming community. The resolution is in addition to the many multicultural events in the schools and town-wide annually, including the recent Diversity Festival at the West Essex YMCA and the Clergy Corner, where members of all religions get together to discuss their many views.
“Fundamentally, this is an issue of human dignity,” said Klein. “We are all different but we all deserve dignity. That’s why it is a pleasure and a privilege to represent this township and speak today in a pride flag raising ceremony. Livingston is a fair and welcoming community and we will remain so as long as this council has its say.”
To learn more about the LCDI or to become involved, contact Susan Berkenbush at Livingston_Diversity@verizon.net.