LIVINGSTON, NJ — Demonstrating its solidarity with the LGBT members of the Livingston community, the Livingston Township Council collaborated with the Livingston Committee for Diversity (LCD) on Thursday, June 23, for its First Annual Pride Flag Raising Ceremony at the Oval.
Mayor Al Anthony welcomed dozens of Livingston residents who gathered at the flagpoles, reiterating his pride for being part of a community where its people are able to openly enjoy their basic human rights. He said the raising ceremony is a celebration of the progress made while still emphasizing the work that remains to eradicate discrimination and violence faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in the community.
“We pride ourselves on being a community of inclusion, on being a town of tolerance,” said Anthony. “We celebrate our differences and our similarities and I believe we always find that what unites us is greater than what divides us.”
Livingston hosts multicultural events in its schools and town-wide annually, and even has a Clergy Corner, where members of all religions get together to discuss their many views. Anthony said that agreeing to raise the flag was just another way for the council to demonstrate its acceptance and pride in the community’s diversity.
In fact, when the council passed the resolution to raise the Pride Flag, a request that was brought to them by the LCD in 2015, the council asked, “Are there more flags that we should be flying?”
Anthony said that earlier this month, Clifton had a 3-3 tie on the council, but the Clifton Mayor broke the tie and voted in favor of raising the flag. Anthony said he was happy for Clifton, but even more proud to say that the Livingston Township Council voted 5-0 in favor of the flag.
“That’s the type of council I’m proudly a part of, and I believe we accurately reflect our constituents,” said Anthony. “Maybe it’s that we are more progressive than other towns, which I always pride myself in, but we are now within a small handful of municipalities in New Jersey to hang a Pride Flag—a distinction we as a council can say we helped make.”
Scott Brody, a Livingston resident who came out in high school, joined the LCD shortly after the commendable efforts the committee put forth at his request last year. According to Brody and LCD co-chairs Billy Fine and Susan Berkenbush, their presentation to the Livingston Township Council was a long and hard but rewarding process.
At Thursday’s ceremony, Brody addressed some of the questions the committee expected to be asked when the topic was first brought to the community’s attention.
“In addition to honoring the Gay Rights Movement of the past, the rainbow flag is the primary symbol of the struggle many LGBT people continue to face,” said Brody. “By standing together and flying this flag tonight, we are sending a strong message that Livingston is a community that embraces diversity—a community where intolerance is not welcome.”
On behalf of the LCD, Fine thanked all of the people, like the township’s council members, who fought to make this possible. He said the LCD has had many successes this year representing the community and its many voices.
“Livingston is a community that has very many different people from very many different backgrounds,” said Fine. “We value diversity, through race, religion, ethnicity, age and today, for sexual orientation.”
“This flag, with its many colors, represents the acceptance of the many backgrounds we come from and how we all come together in Livingston,” said Anthony. “And as such, we are proud to raise it.”