The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders will host the second annual LGBTQ Pride Flag Raising Ceremony event at 1 p.m. on Monday, June 3, on the steps of the Union County Courthouse, 2 Broad Street in Elizabeth. The event is free and all residents are invited to attend.
“Raising the rainbow flag at the County Courthouse is a significant symbol of inclusion and support for the equal rights of LGBTQ people in Union County,” said Freeholder Chair Bette Jane Kowalski. “This year’s ceremony will honor the legacy of activists who transformed the gay rights movement into a widespread protest for equal rights and acceptance.”
This is a historic year for the LGBTQ community as it marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising. The Freeholder Board honors Stonewall’s 50th anniversary while recognizing that the milestones achieved in the LGBTQ rights and equality movement were made possible by trailblazers who first stood up for their rights.
The flag raising ceremony will feature a tribute to the early transgender, gay rights and AIDS activist, Marsha P. Johnson, a 1963 graduate of Elizabeth High School, highlighting her insistence on the urgency of resistance to advance civil rights protections for LGBTQ people. As Ms. Johnson said, “You never completely have your rights -one person - until you all have your rights.”
The ceremony will also feature a performance by students of Elizabeth’s Thomas Jefferson Arts Academy Acapella Chorus, coordinated by counselors of the Youth Enrichment Services Program.
“In the face of the sinister and systematic attacks by the current administration in Washington on the civil rights of LGBTQ people in key areas of life, the unity found through Pride events is essential to increasing awareness and advancing civil rights protections for LGBTQ individuals,” said Freeholder Rebecca Williams, liaison to the Freeholder’s LGBTQ Ad Hoc Committee.
The “Pride Flag” was popularized as a symbol of the gay community by San Francisco artist Gilbert Baker in 1978 at the request of LGBT rights activist Harvey Milk, who challenged Baker to create “an insignia of pride capable of affirming social independence.”
In the late 1980’s Baker noted the meaning the Pride Flag has come to signify when he said, “The flag is an action – it’s more than just the cloth and the stripes. When a person puts the Rainbow Flag on his car or his house, they’re not just flying a flag. They’re taking action.”
Today, the Pride Flag is globally used to further the movement towards equal rights.
In recognition of June as LGBTQ Pride month, the Freeholder Board is also proud to host a series of events to foster inclusion and accelerate acceptance in the Union County community, including TEEN PRIDE (June 14), UC PRIDE in the Park (June 15), Union County SAGE Table (June 23) and PRIDE Night with the Red Bulls (June 28).
The Freeholder Board is proud to support all 21 Union County municipalities hosting a community LGBTQ PRIDE flag raising event with a free “PRIDE in a Box” kit in support of pride, inclusion and acceptance throughout Union County.
Each kit includes a sample PRIDE Month Proclamation, Union County PRIDE posters, Union County Office of LGBTQ Affairs brochures, a 3’ x 5’ LGBTQ PRIDE Flag, 4” x 6” mini LGBTQ PRIDE Flags, Rainbow lapel ribbons, and Rainbow UC PRIDE Temporary Tattoos.
To request a free PRIDE in a Box, complete the registration form online at ucnj.org/pride.
For more information about all PRIDE events and activities hosted by the Freeholder Board visit ucnj.org/pride.
Union County’s Pride month events are organized by the Office of LGBTQ Affairs, and presented in partnership with WellCare Health Plans, Xfinity and Atlantic Health System.
Union County’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs, under the Department of Economic Development, was established by the Freeholder Board in 2018 and is the first and only county government office of its kind in the State of New Jersey.
The Office of LGBTQ Affairs provides a platform for leadership and collaboration to support equality, and serves as a catalyst for advocacy, awareness and action on current and emerging issues that impact the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals.
For more information about the Office of LGBTQ Affairs, contact Danni Newbury, Coordinator, at 908-527-4742 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit ucnj.org/LGBTQ.
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