East Orange, NJ, June 30, 2023: June is Pride Month and the City of East Orange hosted its 6th Annual Pride Flag Raising Ceremony last Friday in a show of solidarity with the LGBTQ community. The event was sponsored by Mayor Ted R. Green, the East Orange City Council and the Department of Recreation & Cultural Affairs.
Rain moved the ceremony indoors, but it didn’t stop the celebration, which featured special performances by Tiger James and Samuel Lewis.
The event fêted the following honorees and LGBTQIA+ advocates:
- Alison C. Myers (Legacy Award) is the Governor-appointed Acting Chair and Chief Executive Officer of the state’s Civil Service Commission who is also New Jersey’s first openly transgender Cabinet member
- Reginald Bledsoe (Humanitarian Award) is the Director of Essex County Office of LGBTQ Affairs
- Diahnne Evans (Ally Advocate Award) is a School Counselor with the East Orange Board of Education
Former honoree Christian Fuscarino, Executive Director at Garden State Equality, served as guest speaker. Fuscarino has been a longtime activist and organizer in the LGBTQ community for more than a decade.
The city's first Pride Flag Raising was held under the administration of Mayor Ted R. Green in 2018 and has been held every year since. Commonly called the “People’s Mayor,” Mayor Green has fully supported the city’s efforts to advance inclusivity, diversity and acceptance among all residents and employees in the City of East Orange.
“Our Pride Flag Raising is not just about celebrating our LGBTQ community, but also paying tribute to those who have dedicated their lives to advocating for equality and social justice for all people,” said Mayor Green. “Members of the LGBTQ community have made significant contributions to our society as a whole and we welcome their continued participation in making our city a safe place for people to live their lives in peace.”
This year, the East Orange Police Department launched its LGBTQ+ Safe Place Initiative (modeled after the Seattle Police Department) which places a recognizable rainbow-colored decal sticker in the windows of all businesses that identify as “safe spaces” for LGBTQ teens in distress. To sign up for the program, business owners must agree to train and continue to train new staff that if a victim of a crime comes in that they permit the victim to stay in a safe public space of the business, and that the employee call 911 as soon as possible.