NUTLEY, NJ - The Nutley Board of Commissioners proclaimed June as LGBTQ+ “Pride Month” during their first in-person meeting since March 3 in the Nutley Commission Chambers on Thursday, June 4. Public Safety Commissioner Alphonse Petracco was marked absent excused.
While the Board is meeting in person, the public may only participate via Zoom where they are able to view the meeting and speak during public comment in real time. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the remainder of the 2020-year public meetings have been moved to Zoom until further notice.
The Pride Month proclamation has the name and signatures of Mayor/Parks and Recreation Commissioner Mauro G. Tucci and the three commissioners present for the meeting, Joseph P. Scarpelli, Thomas J. Evans and John V. Kelly III. However, Commissioner Petracco’s name is missing from the document. This is the second year Petracco was absent for the meeting and did not sign the proclamation.
Last year, on June 18, Nutley took a big step and proclaimed the month of June as Pride Month for the first time. Since then, residents Rhonda Frobose and Patrick Koslecki co-founded Nutley Pride, an LGBTQ+ advocacy group. The group’s mission is to “bring together the Nutley community, sponsors, residents and allies for events regarding LGBTQ+ representation and inclusion in Nutley.”
On Nov. 20, 2019, the group led Nutley’s first Transgender Day of Remembrance vigil on the lawn of the Nutley Public Library. See story: Nutley LGBTQ+ Advocacy Group announced at Transgender Day of Remembrance Vigil.
The proclamation states, “[…] the Township of Nutley is committed to supporting visibility, dignity, and equality for LGBTQ+ people in our community […].” It further states, “[…] this nation was founded on the principle that every individual has infinite value and worth, and that human rights are protected under our US Constitution; and […] the Board of Commissioners calls upon the people of this municipality to embrace this principle and work together to foster a warm and hospitable place for all to live […].” To see the full document visit Pride Month Proclamation.
Frobose spoke during public comment via Zoom. “We would be remiss if we did not mention here today, June 4, 2020, during a time of great social unrest, the first Pride wasn’t a party or celebration; it was a rebellion led by queer people of color in an effort to achieve freedom from systemic oppression,” said Frobose. She added, “[…] I want to let our brothers and sisters of color know they are not alone in Nutley. NutleyPride-LGBTQ+ Advocacy Stands with you.”
Frobose said the group had many plans for this year’s Pride Month, but the COVID-19 pandemic changed all that. She thanked Tucci and the Parks Department employees for lighting Nutley’s municipal building in the rainbow pride colors.
Tucci thanked Frobose and said the proclamation and lighting of town hall was a joint effort. “All of this happened with the consent and approval of all the commissioners that are here this evening,” he said.
Public Works Commissioner Joseph P. Scarpelli, who will serve as Nutley mayor in May of 2022 said, “I am extremely proud to be part of this Board of Commissioners, in both our joint statement and our proclamation for Pride Month. I think it shows the kind of township that we are inclusive and welcoming.” Mayor Tucci agreed.
In a phone interview Commissioner Petracco addressed why his name is missing from the proclamation.
“I signed the first one, but for religious reasons I will not sign them going forward. I have a lot of LGBTQ friends, I don’t judge anybody and I hope you can respect my opinion like I respect your opinion,” he said.
Although Petracco claims that he signed the first proclamation he only signed an enlarged copy provided to him by Frobose during the July 16, 2019 Board of Commissioners meeting. See story: Two Nutley Commissioners Questioned on LGBTQ+ Pride Month Proclamation.
To become a member of Nutley Pride, an LGBTQ+ advocacy group, or for more information, contact Frobose at RhondaNutleyPride@gmail.com or Koslecki at PatrickNutleyPride@gmail.com. Nutley Pride is also on Facebook at facebook.com/NutleyPrideLGBTQ/.
The next Board of Commissioners meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 16 via Zoom. To gain access to the meeting go to zoom.us/j/98805921694. Password: 876956. For those without computer access or mobile device you may dial into the meeting at: (number based on your current location) US: +1 929 205 6099; +1 312 626 6799; +1 301 715 8592; +1 346 248 7799; +1 669 900 6833; or +1 253 215 8782. Meeting ID: 988 0592 1694.
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