MAPLEWOOD, NJ — North Jersey Pride, the nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting equality, acceptance, and respect for LGBTQ youth and families, is launching a program of structured social events for LGBTQ and Ally teens in Northern New Jersey. Events will take place monthly and include such activities as an improv class, theater workshop, art class and retro movie night. Some of the events will take place immediately following HMI’s drop-in counseling, which is provided twice weekly in Maplewood. (For times and location, please email HMI’s Alayne Rosales.) Others will be hosted offsite through partnerships with local organizations. 

“Too many LGBTQ teens suffer in isolation, which makes them more vulnerable to bullying, to depression, to self-harm,” said North Jersey Pride Executive Director C.J. Prince. “HMI is providing much needed counseling and group support in Maplewood. We are thrilled to join forces with them to add social activities designed to break the ice and build community.” 

The supervised events will be free to all LGBTQ teens and any allies who want to support them. Prince notes that in the 10 years that North Jersey Pride has been operating, she has received numerous requests from concerned parents of LBGTQ teens who have come out but are having a hard time finding a network of other youth like them. “In recent years, we’ve also heard from parents of teen allies, who are actively looking for ways to show their LGBTQ friends they care,” she says. “Kids are coming out younger and younger all the time. We need to meet them where they are and provide opportunities for connection and support.” Prince is actively soliciting feedback and suggestions from the community. If you or someone you know is a parent of an LGBTQ child, please get in touch with her atcjprince@northjerseypride.org. 

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Fundraiser Planned for Feb 1 Will Also Support RAD Family

To fund the new teen program, North Jersey Pride will host a gala at the Maplewood Country Club on Feb. 1st in the theme of “The Roaring Twenties,” with live band, full open bar, dinner stations, dancing and entertainment. An exciting silent auction will feature a range of exclusive items, from dinner with South Orange and Maplewood mayors to center orchestra seats to Hamilton. Allies are very welcome.

The winter ball will also fund another year of NJP’s successful RAD Family program for transgender and gender-expansive youth and their families. It began as a playdate with just a few families in 2015 and has since grown exponentially, with families coming from all over New Jersey, including Essex, Sussex, Bergen, Middlesex and Hudson counties. The group holds monthly meetings for RAD Kids (generally 12 and under) and RAD Teens, (generally 13-17) and their parents/guardians. RAD Kids enjoy supervised play with similar children, teens enjoy snacks and chat with a young adult facilitator, while the caregivers gather separately to talk and share experiences and resources. They also have social outings at venues around New Jersey, and facilitated meetings for parents with expert speakers in gender expression and identity. 

Ways you can help: 

NJP is actively seeking community and corporate sponsors. For more information, please contact C.J. Prince at cjprince@northjerseypride.org. To donate to the silent auction, please contact Demetri Sparks at silentauction@northjerseypride.org.

To place an ad in the Event Program, email advertising@northjerseypride.org. To purchase tickets or for more information, visit queer20s.com.

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About North Jersey Pride: North Jersey Pride is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that produces events and activities to promote inclusivity, equality, awareness, and understanding in the upper Garden State. NJP produces the North Jersey Pride Festival on the second Sunday in June, as well as activities throughout the year. We aim to empower young people to become pro-active citizens; businesses to become active community partners; and families of all make-ups to become allies for one another. Our unique Pride Festival offers safe, family-friendly entertainment and fun for all.