UNION, NJ – On a beautiful afternoon in front of Town Hall, Union's Inaugural Pride Month Flag Raising took place, recognizing the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals have had on history locally, nationally, and internationally.
“I’m happy that you’re here with us today to celebrate our inaugural Township of Union Pride Month,” said Union Mayor Michele Delisfort, “and to reflect on how far we’ve come as a community and as a nation to recognize same-sex relationships. People should be free to marry who they love. Thanks to activist’s efforts throughout the years, we are marching – and will continue marching – towards progress.”
Delisfort said this June marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, known as the birth of the LGBTQ movement. She said in the early hours of June 28, 1969 in New York City, the police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club in Greenwich Village. The raid sparked a riot among bar patrons and neighborhood residents as the police roughly hauled employees and patrons out of the bar. This event led to six days of protest and violent clashes with law enforcement. “Stonewall began the cultural shift, beginning the LGBTQ movement.”
The mayor presented a proclamation to Union resident Brian Cave. She said Cave and the Union Pride Facebook group reached out the township requesting the flag raising. “We were glad to bring this to fruition, because the struggle is real and it continues.”
"Take a moment to think about the courage of the people that stood in Stonewall at the time," said State Senator Joe Cryan. "You think about the heros, the progress, the obstacles. We stand here under a Pride flag because pride is pride in oneself and being part of something together."
Accepting the proclamation, Cave said when he and his husband moved to Union three years ago they were not sure how they would be received. “We’ve been welcomed with opened arms. The Township deciding to raise the Pride flag today is a perfect example of their commitment to continuing Union’s reputation as a township that supports and promotes diversity.”
Lifelong Union resident Joe Leo, President of the Union Center Special Improvement District and owner of “Here’s the Story” bookstore, said, he grew up in a time when “there was no protection, there was no freedom, and there was no equality” for gay people.
“This country has changed so much in the last 50 years for the LGBTQ community, that is why raising this flag is so important. The flag represents all of us who fought, and still fight, for equality in this country. The flag is about love, and unity, and equality for every human being under the rainbow. “ Leo said Union is filled with people who “don’t care who you love, they only care that you love.”
Editor's Note: In the interest of transparency, TAPinto Union's publisher, Kathy Cryan, is married to State Senator Joseph Cryan.