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PRIDE Then. Now. Always.


Morristown, Overlook and Newton medical centers and Goryeb Children’s Hospital are proud to be affiliated with North Jersey Pride

AtlanticHealth.org

888-4AH-DOCS


Counseling & Psychotherapy Serving New Jersey’s LGBTQ and Friends Community Since 1983 800.379.9220 ipgcounseling.com www.facebook.com/ InstituteforPersonalGrowth Office Locations: Jersey City, NJ Highland Park, NJ Freehold, NJ New York, NY


contents...

12 6

editor’s letter

9

thank you 2016 sponsors

10 16 22 26

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guide to pride month ▪ Pride Month Events ▪ Entertainers ▪ Honorees

party highlights: a night to remember

Guests wore their finest for NJP’s fundraiser for LGBTQ youth.

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kids like ours

A new group gives gender-creative kids room to be themselves. By Laura Gilkey

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where identities intersect

A conversation with Darnell Moore about Black Lives Matter— and why the movement needs more mainstream LGBTQ support. By C.J. Prince

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becoming me

One transgender woman’s journey to wholeness. By Cecilia Cranko

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...contents

NJ Pride Magazine EDITOR C.J. Prince DESIGN Sarah Gifford COPYEDITING Gary Hilbert COVER ART Jesse Reyes PHOTOGRAPHY Hollingsworth Digital Artistry Studios

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standing up for our kids

It isn’t high school where LGBTQ youth face their first, and toughest, challenges. It’s middle school. And we need to be there with honest, open dialogue and strong community support. By C.J. Prince

54

let’s not go backwards

The AIDS crisis is not over, especially for young, black men. By Gary Paul Wright

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then & now By Deborah Goldstein

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lgbtq resources + support

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how to explain hb2 to the kids By Roger Ian Rosen

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CONTRIBUTORS Cecilia Cranko Christian Fuscarino Laura Gilkey Deborah Goldstein Roger Ian Rosen Gary Paul Wright NJ PRIDE STRATEGIC COMMITTEE Melissa Aufiero Tara Benigno Melissa Commerchero Anthony Desalis Jan Kaminsky C.J. Prince Jeanne-Monique Sampson STAY CONNECTED www.northjerseypride.org facebook.com/NorthJerseyPride twitter.com/PrideinNJ instagram: @prideinnj The North Jersey Pride Guide is published for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, intersex and ally community by North Jersey Pride, Inc., P.O. Box 414, Maplewood, NJ 07040, www.northjerseypride.org, info@ northjerseypride.org. All rights reserved to contributors. Reproduction or reprinting in whole or in part without the permission of the publisher is prohibited. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily represent the view of North Jersey Pride, Inc., a 501(c)3 nonprofit company.


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editor’s note

what a year it’s been . . .

I N T HE SA M E 12-M O NTH

span, we’ve celebrated the historic Supreme Court marriage ruling that legalized love in all 50 states, and we’ve watched the anti-transgender backlash reach a new low with North Carolina’s shameful, discriminatory HB2 law. Even during our low points, however, we’ve seen so much to be hopeful for. Transgender visibility has grown, thanks to people like Laverne Cox, Janet Mock, and Jazz Jennings. Hundreds of allies have stood up in solidarity against North Carolina’s bigotry, including celebrities like Bruce Springsteen, Bryan Adams, Ringo Starr and the band Pearl Jam. More than 200 companies, including PayPal, American Express, United Airlines, Time Warner Cable, and 6 ▪ north jersey pride 2016 ▪

Kohler, have declared their opposition to the law and are backing it up by refusing to invest in a state where transgender people are not welcome. We’ve also seen the Black Lives Matter movement, co-founded by queer-identified women and led by many LGBTQ community members, begin to wake up the nation to the crisis of racial inequality in our country. And here, at the North Jersey Pride Festival, one can look around and see so much love and support—from our corporate sponsors to our small business supporters to the many houses of worship that have returned to joyfully declare their support for equality, diversity, and respect for all people. We hope our many ally attendees feel not like spectators at North Jersey Pride, but full participants,

because we believe that it is only when we truly come together as a community that we can make our voices of acceptance and love heard above the din of bias and hate. And we must. Our young people are depending on us to help make their journey to adulthood safer. As you’ll read inside, children are discovering their identities at younger ages than they ever have. As visibility increases, these LGBTQ children face increasing bullying, harassment, and the kind of painful isolation that can lead to tragedy. We need to be there to support them with proactive dialogue, with educational tools, and with courage they may not yet have themselves to insist that all children are treated equally, that their differences are celebrated,


get social! Post your favorite moments from Pride Month to instagram, twitter, and facebook with the hashtag #njpride2016 and we’ll include them in our final photo recap! Scene’s from last year’s celebration: and that they receive the respect and love they deserve. We can do this. And we will—with your help and by working closely with the other LGBTQ advocacy organizations you will see at our festival. Join us as a volunteer or become even more involved this upcoming year by pledging your services or your financial support to making our North Jersey communities kinder, safer, and more welcoming to all. We wish everybody in our community—gay, straight, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, ally, and however else you choose to identify—a very, very happy Pride! C.J. Prince Executive Director North Jersey Pride

▪ guide to pride month ▪

7


St. James’s Gate Publick House P R O U D LY S U P P O R T S

The 2016 North Jersey Pride Festival CHECK OUT OUR BOOTH IN THE FOOD COURT!


thank you

2016 SPONSORS PRESENTING SPONSOR

PREMIER SPONSOR

UNITY SPONSORS

E Q UA L I T Y S P O N S O R S

Christine Coster (973) 761-4041

DIGNITY SPONSORS

COMMUNITY SPONSORS

proud supporters of North Jersey Pride

WORLDWI DE ORPHANS • WWO. ORG

MEDIA SPONSORS

▪ thank you to our 2016 sponsors ▪

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guide to pride month

events S U N DAY / J U N E 5 T H / 9 A M

N O RT H J E R S E Y P R I D E R U N

Run/walk for equality, respect, and acceptance for all! Pride Month kicks off with our annual 5K, a certified course that takes runners around Grove Park and through the shady streets of Montrose. Families, dogs, and walkers welcome! Kids’ Races start at 10am. Celebratory brunch at Above Restaurant at 11am. RE GIST ER F O R RUN A N D BRUN CH AT : RU NSIGNU P . CO M /RACE/ NJ/SO UT HO RA NGE/NO RT HJER SEY P RID ERU N

M O N DAY / J U N E 6 T H / 8 P M

PRIDE NIGHT OUT

Join us for cocktails and conversation at our annual Pride party! Pride menu, specialty drinks and cash bar at happy hour prices all night long. CO DA K ITCHEN + BA R, 177 M A PLEWO O D AV E. , M A P L EWO O D ; F REE

T H U R S DAY / J U N E 9 T H / 7 : 3 0 P M

B E YO N D AC C E PTA N C E : S TA N D I N G U P F O R O U R K I D S

Learn more from the experts about how you can be your LGBTQ child’s best advocate—in school, on the playground, and everywhere else. CHRIST CHU R CH, 74 PA R K AVE. , G LE N RID GE. R SV P TO EV ENTS@ NO RT HJER SEYP RID E. O R G. F REE

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S U N DAY / J U N E 1 2 T H / 1 2 – 6 P M

N O RT H J E R S E Y P R I D E F E S T I VA L

“Built for grownups, cool for kids,” the North Jersey Pride Festival is an event that brings together LGBTQ and straight ally attendees from all over the state to celebrate diversity, equality, and love. Live main stage, Rainbow Kids Zone with interactive kids’ stage, five-star food court, 90+ vendors, raffles and more. All are welcome! M EM O RIA L PA RK A MP H I T HE ATE R, 123 D U NNE L L RD. , M A PLEWO O D; FR EE

▪ guide to pride month ▪

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guide to pride month

events

T U E S DAY / J U N E 1 4 T H / 7 : 3 0 P M

M OV I E N I G H T : T H E M A S K YO U L I V E I N

The Newark LGBTQ Community Center and North Jersey Pride present the award-winning film “The Mask You Live In.” Pressured by the media, their peer group, and even the adults in their lives, boys and young men confront messages encouraging them to disconnect from their emotions, devalue authentic friendships, objectify and degrade women, and resolve conflicts through violence. Interactive panel discussion follows. RUTG ER S UNIVER SIT Y, T HE PAUL R O B E SO N CA M P U S CENT ER, 350 DR. M LK JR. BLVD, NEWA RK; T ICKETS: $5 A DVA NCE/$10 D O O R

W E D N E S DAY / J U N E 1 5 T H / 7 P M

T H E K I D S A R E ST I L L A L L R I G H T

Whether you’re an LGBTQ parent curious about what’s in store for your children or a supportive straight parent raising your children to be active allies, these teen and adult children of LGBTQ parents will open your eyes. All teens, tweens and adults welcome at this panel cosponsored by COLAGE and the Maplewood Public Library. 51 BA KER ST . , M A PLEWO O D ; F REE

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We create chemistry that makes diverse ingredients love being the recipe for success

What are the ingredients for success in a changing world? Great people ... a broad spectrum of ideas ... generous additions of creativity and innovation ... all layered in interesting combinations. At BASF, our recipe for continued success is based on the rich diversity of our people and their unique talents and perspectives. We especially take PRIDE in supporting ALLchemie, our LGBT and Allies Employee Resource Group, at this year’s North Jersey Pride event. Find out how you can create chemistry with us at: www.basf.com — Photo by BASF employee Melissa Walsh, Geismar, L.A.

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guide to pride month

events

T H U R S DAY / J U N E 1 6 T H / 8 P M

P R I D E DA N C E : F E V E R AT 4 S I XT Y 6

We’re taking over the hottest venue in New Jersey for a night you won’t forget. Three bars, two lounges, outdoor cabanas and the largest disco ball in America! DJ Citizen Jane (NYC Pride, Miami White Party, The Dinah) and DJ Just Love dropping the beat. Make a night of it with a special coupon code for one-night stay at the Westminster Hotel. Includes round-trip shuttle to the club and breakfast for two. CLUB 4SIXT Y6, 4 66 P R OSP E CT AV E. , WE ST O RA NG E; T ICKETS: $25–$50

S AT U R DAY / J U N E 1 8 T H / 3 P M

R A D K I D S : H I K E T H E FA I RY T R A I L

Join RADKids, a new social and activities group for gender-creative kids and their families, for a fun hike in the reservation. M U ST R SVP F O R LO CAT IO N. EM A IL RA D K IDS@ NO RT HJER SEYPR IDE. O R G ; FREE

T U E S DAY / J U N E 2 1 S T / 6 : 3 0 P M

L E S S O N S I N LG BTQ PA R E N T I N G

Family Equality Council, MetLife, Spence-Chapin’s Modern Family Center, and North Jersey Pride present an interactive panel: “Living Into the Experience of LGBTQ Parenting.” Join us as we address the challenges unique to LGBTQ parents and families, exploring issues like inclusivity in schools and ways to begin productive conversations about diversity. Wine reception at 6:30pm, panel at 7pm. CHURCH OF THE HOLY INNOCENTS, 681 PROSPECT AVE, WEST ORANGE; FREE 14 ▪ north jersey pride 2016 ▪


Diversity and inclusion are integral to our culture and reflected in our values of Leadership, Integrity, Flexibility and Efficiency. We welcome individuals with diverse perspectives who will help us drive innovation at Bayer.

Our diverse constituencies are exemplified in Bayer’s 10 employee resource groups, which includes BLEND, our global employee resource group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees and their allies that advocates for openness and respect for all employees.

At Bayer innovation is part of our DNA. But it’s not something that happens exclusively in laboratories. We see it as being open to new and unconventional approaches and perspectives. Our working culture is driven by our passion and

the fascination to think ahead. That is why we encourage you to question the status quo and constantly think beyond the obvious. It takes imagination, ambition and courage to find answers to society’s most pressing questions.

Passion to innovate | Power to change


guide to pride festival

entertainers S

outh Carolina-born, Brooklyn-based singer and songwriter PARS ON JA ME S likes to call his music “conflicted pop gospel,” and one listen to his debut single “Sinner Like You” and the description feels entirely apt. The infectious and uplifting song marries James’ soulful, church-honed voice with shimmering pop production by Swedish producer Elof Loelv (Rihanna, Mikky Ekko), while its lyrics address the duality of human nature. As an openly gay, bi-racial son of the South, who experienced a rocky childhood marked by racism, religion-based homophobia, addiction, and domestic abuse, James has frequently found himself drawn to trying to make sense of his past and how it has shaped his identity. Even the professional name he has chosen for himself alludes to his obsession with conflicting thoughts. “Parson is actually my last name and a parson is an independent parish priest,” James explains. “He’s separate from the organization. People follow him if they choose to. And James is a reference to James Dean, who I had read was a closeted bisexual. He 16 ▪ north jersey pride 2016 ▪

struggled with being seen as both a good boy and a rebel. I liked the duality of pairing those two names. For me, it adds up to a conflicted preacher. I feel like all of my songs are like sermons, so this is my conflicted pop gospel.” “Sinner Like You” was borne out of James’ fear of coming out to his mother. “Telling her was easy, but beforehand, thinking about how I was going to do it, was not,” he says. “I had this image in my head that I couldn’t do it because we have this whole community and congregation of people who are constantly judging us.” The longing for love and acceptance can also be

heard in Norwegian DJ Kygo’s single “Stole the Show,” which James wrote and is featured on. “Sometimes I long for things that I know are not going to work out and I don’t pay attention to the signs. I think I can change someone. I’d be dating this guy and it’d be amazing for a few months then he’d disappear for weeks. At that point, I’m pretending that I have a boyfriend. I’m pretending that it’s cool. ‘Stole the Show’ came from that realization that we should stop acting.” Now signed to RCA Records, James is currently working on the songs that will make up his debut album, due later this year.


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973-656-2089

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RA N G E A CAPPEL L A is a

NYC-based group comprised of artists working in various facets of the entertainment industry and on Broadway. Since forming in 2014, RANGE has been featured on Nickelodeon, Sesame Street, E! Live from the Red Carpet: Countdown to the 87th Academy Awards, and Billboard. They have performed onstage at Radio City Music Hall with Kelly Clarkson as a part of her most recent “Piece by Piece” tour, as well as at The Highline Ballroom, 54 Below, and Joe’s Pub. Most

recently, HAMILTON [in 7 minutes] has gone viral with over 750k views, and has been featured by Billboard, Playbill, and many other

publications. All of RANGE’s arrangements are completely original and produced in-house. For more information visit www. rangeacappella.com.

winning host, TV/radio personality, comedian and celebrity interviewer, known for being one of the breakout stars of Bravo TV’s hit series “The People’s Couch”; co-host of “The Ann Walker Show with Scott Nevins” on UBN Radio; and formerly from truTV’s hit show “truTV Presents: World’s Dumbest…” Scott has appeared on  NBC, truTV, The Style Network, QTV, Fuse TV and

LOGO and has hosted several red carpet events for TV

Land. He is thrilled to be back hosting North Jersey Pride!

After recently making her national television debut as Jane Hayward on the award-winning musical extravaganza, Glee, SA M A N T H A M ARI E WARE is ready to continue taking on the world. Before becoming a TV star, Samantha won the 2012 Helen Hayes Award for Best Supporting Role as Nabulungi Hatimbi in The Book of Mormon: First National Tour. She then made her Broadway debut

as the first cover for Tony Award Winner Nikki James in The Book of Mormon on Broadway. Before Broadway, you were able to catch her lighting up the stage as the role of Nala in Disney’s The Lion King. Also advocating for social equality, race and gender, Ware considers herself a #SMARTBROWNGIRL and will continue to fight for the movement that supports young black women in celebrating their ubiquity

as women of color while defining beauty and bursting the glass ceiling.

S COT T NEV I NS is an award-

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JA N E L E E HO O KER is a band

and the Highline Ballroom, El Cid (L.A.), Pappy & Harriet’s (Pioneertown, CA), the Continental Club (Houston), and Antone’s Record Shop (Austin). They’ve shared bills with Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes, Bernard Fowler (Rolling Stones), the Wailers, Davey Knowles, and the Death Valley Girls, among others. Individually, the members of JLH have played for thousands of fans while sharing bills with bands like Motörhead, MC5, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Aerosmith, and Deep Purple.

SW E E T L I T TL E BLO O DHO UND ,

a 7-piece soulful rock band driven by three superhero females including out artist and Grammy member Devlin Miles, who leads the band with rhythm specialist Jibrail Nor, violinist and vocalist Olivia Martinez, trumpeter and vocalist Shanelle Jenkins, Charles Butterfield II on bass, Ali Bishop on guitar, and their newest member Tony

Espinoza finessing the keys. Their most recent successes include the placement of the song “Superhero Female,” which aired at a WNBA New York Liberty game. SLB is the winner of “Best Country/ Americana Album” by Akademia Music Awards and was nominated for the WomenInCharg3 Radio Award for “Album of the Year.” 

The members of G R O OV E ST RE E T have an interesting story to tell about how they came together. Bill and Eric played together in another band that didn’t work out, after which they formed Groove Street. After coincidentally meeting Bill, Richie joined the band when he saw him again at an audition. Eric heard Paul sing

and with his great Irish accent thought he’d make a great addition to the band. Anthony met Bill and Eric while subbing on another gig. He jumped at the chance to join their band. With four strong vocalists, they are all able to harmonize smoothly on their original songs, which are a unique blend of infusing jazz, rock, and pop.

of five women from New York City who infuse the grit and attitude of their hometown into the blues. With double lead guitars, a hard-driving rhythm section, and soulscouring vocals, JLH honors the likes of Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Johnny Winter, Big Mama Thornton, and other blues greats. Few bands today deliver the goods with as much raw soul as JLH. Since forming in 2013, JLH has graced many notable stages including NYC’s B.B. King Blues Club, Irving Plaza

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F R O N T & CENTER PERF O RM I NG A RTS CHO I R students, ages

4-14, are all smiles to be invited to perform at North Jersey Pride! Front & Center for Performing Arts, located in Springfield, is an all-inclusive program offering classes

The award-winning PAPER M IL L P L AYHO US E BR OADWAY S HOW CHO I R consists of 60

young performing artists, ages 16-22. Over the past three years the show choir has delighted more than 300,000 people across the region with their rousing renditions of Broadway, pop, and classics. Last season, the choir performed at Lincoln Center and toured with “Vocal Ovation: A Show Choir Extravaganza” along

for ages 2.5 through adult in dance, acting, musical theatre and voice. The choir specializes in growing happy kids through the arts! Check out classes, camps, and parties at www.front-ncenter.com.

with two other elite choirs. The Paper Mill Playhouse Broadway Show Choir is an audition-based, exhibition Show Choir that stems from Paper Mill Playhouse’s Arts Education and Outreach programs. Students selected to be a part of this talented group have had the opportunity to fine-tune their craft with free, intensive instruction that includes private vocal coaching. For more information about

the Paper Mill Playhouse Broadway Show Choir and Voices of Paper Mill and to find upcoming tour performances visit papermill.org.

2016 award honorees

O U TSTANDI NG AL LY AWAR D

NJP A P P R E CIATIO N AWA R D

New Jersey Senate Majority Leader LO RE T TA W E I NB E R G has been a fierce champion of LGBTQ rights and equality in her quarter-century as a state legislator, first in the Assembly and later in the Senate. She has sponsored numerous pro-equality bills, including the 2004 landmark domestic partnership bill, and tirelessly pursued full marriage equality on behalf of the LGBTQ community.

T HE PRIDE NET WO RK was founded by

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Christian Fuscarino in 2008 at Hofstra University to create a safe, social, stronger, and more unified LGBTQ community on campus. Today, the volunteer-led nonprofit offers programming in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, including the SPEAK Summit, a day-long program where LGBTQ students learn leadership skills and practical solutions to facilitate change in their schools.


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party highlights

a night to remember!

More than 300 attendees donned their finest for the 2nd annual Black & White Ball, North Jersey Pride’s sold-out benefit for LGBTQ youth.


P H OTO GR APHS BY HOLLIN GSWORT H DI GI TAL ARTI STRY STUDI OS


Kids Like Ours

A new group creates space for gender-creative children to be themselves. BY LAURA GILKEY

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M

y son has always liked to wear dresses. His American Girl dolls are among his favorite things on the planet. He prefers cartwheels and skateboarding to soccer and football. When he was three, he asked when he would become a girl. Now he’s nine, and he is still drawn to all things “girl.” I don’t know if he has a basic need to be female, or if it’s a more stylistic preference. When he’s older and sorting out his identity—gender and otherwise—that reason will matter. Right now it just matters that he feels safe and free in his desires. When does a child learn that he is a boy or she is a girl? Newborns surely don’t have a sense of gender, but that doesn’t stop the adults around them from plastering bows to their downy heads or forcing tiny baseball gloves onto their pudgy fingers. I can tell you as a parent: children understand Boy v. Girl very early. How about you? Do you think twice when it comes time to check “male” or “female” on the form at the doctor’s office? Does your life fit neatly into that blank square? Most of us have found our way into one of those boxes, either because that’s what feels right, or because we learned very early on that life is a lot simpler if we conform to

I am optimistic that my son will grow up in a world where he will ultimately feel safe in expressing his chosen gender, whatever that may be. those stark categories. It’s just easier, right? It’s definitely not easier for a child who feels the world is telling him that all the things he likes to wear, draw, play, and dream are off limits because he’s a boy—that those things are only for girls. When my son asked me, “When will I be a girl?” I asked him what that means to him. He answered, “To have long hair and wear a dress.” I told him he could do that any time he wants. But I knew that just telling him he could “be a girl” wasn’t enough. Whenever my son wants to wear so-called girl clothes in public, I discuss with him what it will feel like to wear a dress, ballet flats, and a headband into a classroom or pizza parlor where people know him as a boy. I tell him I will support him and be with him, whatever he chooses. We talk about how not everyone understands that it’s okay for boys to wear those things, that not everyone agrees with us that all clothes, toys, and colors are for all children. He asks me why they don’t understand, and I resist going into a diatribe about

patriarchal hierarchies and the gender binary. I tell him that there are a lot of reasons why people feel safer with the world divided up between boys and girls. I say we are lucky to help teach others that it’s okay if those categories aren’t so black and white, to show them that nothing bad will happen if a boy likes to wear a dress. He is a child. He’s an insightful, creative, vulnerable, resilient child. I don’t want him to feel that he has to educate everyone on the other side of our front door. I know how cruel people can be, and I think he does, too. He considers his options and usually chooses to go into public as a boy. This path sometimes feels closeted: he comes home from school, kicks off his Nikes and waltzes around in heels and something frilly. Then, when it comes to going out, he is, as they say, “all boy.” A couple of years ago, I asked him if he’d like me to start a playgroup for kids like him. He was thrilled by the idea and asked, “Where will we get all the dresses?” I was more stymied by, “Where will we get all the kids?” ▪ kids like ours ▪

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Eventually, I met a local mom who has a son a lot like mine. We hit it off right away and both boys were amazed and delighted to meet someone “like them.” She and I spread the word and together we formed a local playgroup for gender creative kids. Since then, we’ve met a few times at members’ homes and it has been great for our families to share stories and strategies while the kids play. We have sought and received funding from North Jersey Pride to start RADKids, a spinoff of our original playgroup. RADKids will host quarterly events for gender creative, schoolaged children and their families. Our mission is to plan events that range from artistic to active to informative. We want to build a figurative space where families who are in any phase of supporting a gender non-conforming child can get together. The emphasis is on supportive socialization. We will not provide therapy or any services other than fun and building community. It is my great hope that as we meet more people like us, as we share resources and talk to friends and family, the more safe and free our RADKids will feel. The transgender and gender non-conforming community is starting to enjoy greater visibility and civil rights, seemingly

On the Bookshelf George, by Alex Gino Everyone thinks George is a boy, but she knows better. When her middle-grade teacher says she can’t try out for the part of Charlotte in the school play “because you’re a boy,” George and her friend come up with a plan so she can finally be who she wants to be. Parrotfish, by Ellen Wittlinger Angela Katz-McNair never felt quite right as a girl. So she cuts her hair short, purchases some men’s clothes and chooses a new name: Grady. While coming out as transgender feels right to Grady, he isn’t prepared for the reactions of his friends and family. Fortunately he finds some kindred spirits (one of whom teaches him there’s a precedent for transgenderism in the natural world). Freakboy, by Kristin Elizabeth Clark Brendan Chase is a star wrestler, a video game aficionado and a loving boyfriend to his seemingly perfect match, Vanessa. But on the inside, Brendan struggles to understand why his body feels so wrong— why he sometimes fantasizes having long hair, soft skin and gentle curves. The novel folds 3 narratives with 3 different perspectives presented in 3 different fonts into one cohesive story written in verse. Tomboy, by Liz Prince A graphic novel about refusing restrictive gender “norms” (and even sometimes inadvertently embracing gender stereotypes). Life lesson: there’s no one right way to be a girl. Beyond Magenta, by Susan Kuklin Having met and interviewed six transgender or gender-neutral young adults, Kuklin presents them here before, during and after their personal acknowledgment of gender preference via portraits, family photographs and candid images.

▪ kids like ours ▪

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every day. Our language is changing, too, as people who refuse the gender binary use pronouns other than he or she. I am optimistic that my son will grow up in a world where he will ultimately feel safe in expressing his chosen gender, whatever that may be. When I asked him if it was okay if I wrote this article about our experience he gave me the thumbs up and an off-handed, “cool.” I explained that it might mean that someone who knows me would figure out I was talking about him; they might tell someone, even a kid who knows him. He fell on the floor in paroxysms of joy. I laughed and asked if he would like that. He replied, “Yes, because then everyone would know. I wish we could give a copy of that article to everyone at school, all the teachers, parents, students, everyone. Then I would be safe.” I said, “You are safe, but what if we did that and you really felt safe? Then what?” He said, “I don’t know, it’s the first step and you have to go step by step, so we don’t know yet what the next step will be.” ▪ If you or someone you know would benefit by joining RADKids, please email us at radkids@northjerseypride.org L AU RA G I L K EY is an artist,

volunteer, and mom who lives in Maplewood with her husband and two children.

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5 Tips for Raising Gender NonConforming Kids 1

2

3

ACCEPTA NCE IS P R OT E CT IO N. There is not much

you can or should do as a parent to influence your child’s gender identity. But there is a lot you can do to give them a sense of self and security. Accepting them for who they are will make them stronger and prepare them for potential harsher reactions. It will help them know that everyone is different in some way, yet deserving of love and respect. Research shows that this parental stance improves the future mental health of your child. LET YOU R CHILD LEA D T HE WAY . Do not hold them

back or push them forward before they know who they are. You can’t make or change their gender identity. It is specific to each child. Let them show you how they see themselves and who they are becoming. To the extent that it is safe and acceptable for everyone at home, let them decide on what clothes they wear and what toys they pick. R EMEMB ER T HAT GENDER NO NC O NF O R M IT Y IS NOT A P SYCHOPAT HOLO GY. It is a part of the normal

diversity of children’s behaviors and expressions. If it is, however, persistent over time and consistent throughout contexts (home, school, friends), it is likely to be important to your child and to his or her identity. 4

5

ENSU R E SA FET Y A ND SU P P O RT F O R YO U R C H IL D .

Children who show strong differences can sometimes be bullied, teased or harassed in school. Sometimes, kids feel ashamed of how they are treated and do not report these experiences. They might even fear that you agree with the negative judgments. Make sure to gently ask how things are going. Let your child know that they should not be bullied or teased and that you would want to be informed of such incidents so that you could help. CONN E CT WIT H A COMMU NIT Y . Many other families

are raising gender nonconforming children. Reach out to them, find support and learn from their questions, struggles and solutions. You are not alone.

Source: The Gender and Family Project at the Ackerman Institute for the Family


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“I can still be shot by police for the color of my skin and denied access to equal protections because of my sexual identity. I don’t have a choice of selecting which of those I’m going to fight for.” —DA R N E L L M O O R E , W R I T E R , ACT I V I ST , E D U CATO R

Where Identities Intersect

BY C.J. PRINCE

Mainstream LGBTQ groups have been too quiet on the Black Lives Matter front. 36 ▪ north jersey pride 2016 ▪

A

year ago, when the Supreme Court overturned DOMA, legalizing samesex marriage throughout the nation, there was much celebration. But for at least one member of the LGBTQ community—and likely many more—the victory was bittersweet. In his June 2015 article, “I Am


men and women were being laid to rest. “Samesex marriage is a win,” he wrote. “The mattering of black lives is a loss. Now how will the LGBTQ movement respond to this equation of injustice?” Moore, who is a senior correspondent at MicNews, co-managing editor at The Feminist Wire, and writer-in-residence at the Center on African American Religion, Sexual Politics and Social Justice at Columbia University, says he has seen progress over the past year. But he notes we still have a long way to go. How are you feeling about Pride since you wrote that piece last June?

Black and Gay, But I Refuse to Be Proud This Weekend,” Darnell Moore, educator, writer and activist, explained: “I cannot summon enough pride to prevent my black, gay body from being the target of white racial supremacy.” Celebrating a marriage victory felt wrong as the bodies of nine brutally murdered black

A lot has happened in the past year in terms of black organizers continuing to be at the forefront of so many conversations, and a lot of those organizers happen to be queer and trans. Alicia Garza and Patrisse Cullors, two of the founders of the Black Lives Matter movement, are queer-identified. I think the problem remains that there is a way that LGBTQ groups are largely understood as white-centered and I’m not sure that many people will understand that many of the black organizers who have been part of the larger Black Lives Matter movement are also queer and trans. But for some

reason their issues are not even thought about. It’s almost as though these are separate issues. But our issues are queer, too. So I think we have work to do and by “we,” I mean the larger mainstream LGBTQ movement has work to do not only centering and thinking about issues of racial equity, but gender equity, and that’s both around trans women and trans men. When’s the last time a LGBTQ mainstream organization has also taken seriously women’s reproductive rights? Part of the pushback has long been, “We can’t do everything.” But LGBTQ people are women, we’re black, we’re brown, we’re indigenous, we’re poor— we’re all of those things. So because it’s representative of a group impacted by a range of issues, we should absolutely be thinking about intersectional platforms. Black people have been shot dead by police without any outcry from LGBTQ organizations. Trump rallies still happen and black people are attacked. The same states where people are being discriminated against because of gender expression are also where you have the greatest civil rights infringements, like the voting rights laws. For me, these issues are intersectional. ▪ where identities intersect ▪

37


Celebrating a marriage victory felt wrong as the bodies of nine brutally murdered black men and women were being laid to rest. iStock.com/Bastiaan Slabbers

Why do you think mainstream LGBTQ organizations fail to recognize the intersectionality

problem and I don’t think it’s any different today.

between these two identities

Do you have advice for

and therefore fail to stand up

members of one group who

for people within their own

want to proactively stand

community?

up for the rights of another

I would love to ask some of those folks. My assumption is that we respond to things we care about, so I surmise that this is an issue that they don’t care about as much. Maybe that’s a wrong assessment. But I think it’s a question we should ask. I’m a queer black man in this work too, and I’m concerned not only about what can happen when my rights are limited because of sexual identity. I can still be shot by police for the color of my skin and denied access to equal protections because of my sexual identity. I don’t have a choice of selecting which of those I’m going to fight for. The large LGBTQ mainstream organizations center on issues they care most about and which impact them, but not all sectors of the community. That’s always been a

group, but want to do it in

38 ▪ north jersey pride 2016 ▪

the right way?

So I identify as profeminist. I identify that way partially because I believe it’s important for male-identified people to not assume that a feminist critique doesn’t also include them. Just because you stand up for women’s rights and gender equity does not mean that you don’t also benefit from the very system you’re trying to critique. It’s important to recognize that up front. But having said that, the role of any accomplice—those who are willing to give up power to get in the fight—has to come with this recognition that we can at once be fighting on behalf of those who are oppressed and still be oppressors. I think that’s key. Entering into the work without having that recognition can be quite dangerous and even

be adding to the problem rather than fixing it. The first thing to do is not to assume or take a lead role to try and organize. They have to do the work of learning from that community with whom they are trying to be in solidarity and then taking marching orders from those they are trying to be in solidarity with. Those are ways forward. What do you hope to accomplish with your groundbreaking new original series, The Movement, and by what results will you measure its success?

If nothing else, what I see as success is proliferating counter-narratives, offering up stories about people who are otherwise not celebrated, but have been in that community doing the work that so many others get praise for. What I hope is that we’ll have an archive of examples people can point to, not only in terms of what the work is that people are doing, but the how. How does one take ownership of some of these issues and transform communities? That’s so important. ▪


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PRIDE

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becoming me

It was worth the lifetime’s wait to finally be herself, but transphobia hasn’t made the journey easy. BY CECILIA CRANKO

I

am a mid-40s, somewhat nerdy architect. But the thing that stands out most about me these days is that I am a transgender woman. I’ve been transitioning for a little over a year now. It has come at a high price to finally be myself. My marriage of almost 20 years ended, not entirely due to my transition, but as a result of mistrust; I hid things. I hid a big part of myself, who I was inside. My spouse was the one woman I could have trusted with anything, but I couldn’t even be honest with myself—so how could I be honest with her? From my earliest memories, I had always felt feminine, and as though something was very wrong with me, that I wasn’t whole. What people saw wasn’t who I was inside, but growing up, I was told to be a boy. Be a man. Suck it up! Boys don’t cry. I wanted to tell people that wasn’t who I was, but I was too scared 42 ▪ north jersey pride 2016 ▪

so I hid myself. I acted out and got into many fights to prove my manhood. Don’t mess with me or else! It was all a facade. Just a picture of what was expected of me. In private, after I had checked that no one was around, I cross-dressed. This was the one thing that calmed me and let me feel good about myself, at peace with myself. The feeling was wonderful, but it was never a true feeling of being myself. My true self was deep inside. After high school, I moved to Israel and fell in love with the country. Growing up in a predominantly Christian society, I had been picked on, called ‘Jew’ and many other names that hurt. I was happy to finally be in a place where I was accepted. My religion and spirituality could be free. I was where I belonged. I spent several years in the Israeli army, but then returned to the U.S. to marry the love of my life.

We lived in California and then moved to New York. I went to college and got a job. We had children and I had new responsibilities and a new life. Deep inside, I was miserable. I hated myself: who I was, what I was. No one knew. I tried to kill myself, and no one knew. That is one of the hardest things being transgender— the isolation. I couldn’t tell anybody how I felt, especially those closest to me. I didn’t have the right words, the language. I didn’t know about transgender and thought I was alone, thought I was just weird for having these constant thoughts. The pain I felt seeing a woman pass me on the street and having such a visceral reaction of emptiness and longing. I didn’t feel right in men’s clothing. My mannerisms were distinctly feminine, but I knew I wasn’t gay. One day while on the internet, I came across


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an article about being transgender. It was a revelation to me. It was as though the person was writing the article about me. Everything in it was describing me. My feelings, the physical and mental pain I had been going through was all there. It was me. That one word: transgender. It opened up a whole world. It opened me up. Now that I had the right words, I was able to finally be me. My marriage was over, which was hard. I didn’t know how I would be able to go on. But on I went. I began. My transition started. No, not transition—that implies you are starting something. I wasn’t starting but finally accepting who I was. I went on hormones, started making friends, came out at work and to my colleagues, who were very supportive. I was accepting myself and just being me. 44 ▪ north jersey pride 2016 ▪

Now that I had the right words, I was able to finally be me. And then came a day when it became painfully clear, again, that my new life would not be easy. As I had so many Mondays before, I was riding the New York City subway to get to my office. People stared at me, but they always do, so I put on my headphones and listened to my music as the train stopped and started, letting the usual flow of people on and off. But when the train stopped at 34th street, something different happened. As passengers were getting off, I felt someone stopped in front of me. When I looked up, the guy standing there looking down at me, swung his fist, and hit me square in the face.

No one moved. No one helped. No one said anything. When I looked up, he had jumped off the train and we were moving again. By the time I got to work my nose was a bloody mess. I tried to compose myself, clean up, and move on with my day. But I couldn’t. So instead, I spent the rest of my day filling out an assault report at the police station. I know I’m not alone. The 2015 National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs found crimes against transgender people have risen even as anti-gay violence has declined. Why are we being targeted? Why are we made out to be such monsters? Lawmakers proposing laws like HB2 in North Carolina say they are designed to protect religious freedom, protect women and children. But what they really do is make trans people everywhere in the U.S. a target. People are feeling


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freer to seek us out and act violently towards us. A few weeks before the incident on the train, a guy shouted at me on the street and then followed me into a store, all the while shouting at me. I ignored him and moved on. Segregating us and labeling us and mocking us are just the first steps toward violence. Violence that is killing trans people. This year so far in the U.S. there have been 13 trans people murdered. Last year, there were 26 murders that we know of in the U.S. That’s 26 people who lost their lives because, like me, they just wanted to feel free to live their lives authentically. They just wanted to be who they really were. This year, two transgender women that I know of committed suicide within a month of each other. One

We need to make our voices louder, so that those most vulnerable and most at risk can hear us say: Don’t give up. of them, Sam Price, took her own life on her 21st birthday. I didn’t know her, but I attended her funeral, sobbing quietly in the back. The other was Bryn Kelly, a 35-year-old writer, who committed suicide at her home in Brooklyn. Their friends knew who they were, they were living their truths—but in the end, they couldn’t find enough hope to go on. I know how they felt. I was fortunate that I was able to stop myself from doing the same. I wish they had been able to—their friends and families are also victims. We all are.

If transgender people are to feel safer, more secure, more comfortable in our own skin, we need the rest of the community to stand up for us, with us, against the bigotry and fearmongering that has become so common and so vocal. We need to make our voices louder, so that those most vulnerable and most at risk can hear us say: Don’t give up. You are worthy, you are beautiful, and you are loved—just as you are. ▪ C E C IL IA C R A NKO is a trans-

gender woman, proud parent to two wonderful boys, and an architect.

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46 ▪ north jersey pride 2016 ▪


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Standing Up for Our Kids

We simply can’t afford to wait until high school to start teaching acceptance and respect. BY C.J. PRINCE

48 ▪ north jersey pride 2016 ▪

Two months ago, in San Ramon, Calif., students at Windemere Ranch Middle School got tired of hearing “you’re so gay” and other hurtful phrases in the halls of school. They came up with the idea to dedicate the week leading up to the Day of Silence to discussing LGBTQ issues and teaching tolerance. The school district supported


Eugenio Marongiu / Shutterstock.com

them. “This is a message peers wanted to get out to their peers to make sure all students feel comfortable on campus and that’s something that’s important to us,” said San Ramon Valley School District Spokesperson Elizabeth Graswich. Not all parents agreed. The petition they circulated, which garnered

more than 500 signatures, decried what they called an overemphasis on LGBTQ issues and strongly opposed the 15-minute-per-day curriculum that had been developed by the students themselves. Moreover, these parents argued, the issues being discussed were “not appropriate” for middle schoolers and conflicted with the parents’ religious beliefs. They threatened to pull their kids out of school that week in protest. Ultimately, the school did not back down, the program took place as scheduled, albeit with some modifications, and students learned about tolerance, parental protest notwithstanding. Some parents made good on their promise to boycott; others instructed their children to skip the offensive lessons and spend that time in the library. Still others allowed their kids to participate, but with reservations about whether their kids were mature enough for the subject matter. “I wish it was maybe a little later into high school period of time [sic],” one parent told the local ABC News affiliate. That is arguably the most common refrain: They’re too young and it’s inappropriate. Also, there are no LGBTQ kids in middle school. Worse still: Talking about this could “make kids gay.”

The Visibility Challenge

Yet the stories middle school students tell about their experiences conflict sharply with this view. For LGBTQ students, middle school can be a war zone, with epithets like “faggot,” “dyke,” and “that’s so gay” used daily as weapons. Middle school students hear these antigay slurs more often than high schoolers and also are more often verbally and physically harassed or assaulted because of their sexual orientation than are high school students, according to the most recent report by GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network). (See charts, p50–51.) But despite the fact that middle school students are at greater risk, they have fewer resources than students in high school. There are scant few middle schools that offer the support of a gay-straight alliance (GSA) club, as many high schools do. In GLSEN’s 2013 National School Climate Survey, 58.5% of LGBTQ high school students had a GSA vs. 7.5% of middle school students. Middle schoolers are similarly unlikely to hear about LGBTQ acceptance in classrooms or read about it in their libraries. There is virtually no visibility at all—leaving these children isolated and alone at the most vulnerable time of their young lives. ▪ standing up for our kids ▪

49


Source: GLSEN’s National School Climate Survey, 2013

80% 68.1%

MIDDLE SC HO OL

60% 49.3% 40%

HIGH SC HO OL

52.3% 35.9%

34.1% 17.5%

20%

23.6%

17.9%

12.5%

7.9%

12.6%

5.6%

0% Verbal Harassment

Physical Harassment

Physical Assault

BASED ON SEXUA L O RIENTATIO N

Verbal Harassment

Physical Harassment

Physical Assault

BAS E D O N G E N DE R E X P R E S S I O N

Kayla Was Kyle. “If you wait For kids at this age, until high school to do that, visibility is critical. “If we you have to spend all this don’t hear those voices of time undoing those little LGBTQ folks and we don’t traumas that have been see it and it’s not discussed, festering underneath from then the people who are 60% 58.4% the time they started school. experiencing it, they have earlier we can get in to that feeling of otherness and The 44.5% 46.4% frame gender that’s what creates those 38.4%and sexuality 40% better traumas inside us,” says Amy in a positive light, the 31.0% 28.2% 26.3% off everyone will be.” Fabrikant, literacy coach, 18.4% 20% Those early traumas leave co-chair of GLSEN Northern scars that can dramatically NJ, and author of When

impact young people’s ability to learn and perform in high school and beyond. “Think about it,” says Fabrikant. “If a kid is coming to school with lots of shame or worry or guilt, that child is not going to be able to perform to their highest potential.” That may explain a finding by 21.2% a 2007 GLSEN research brief that15.9% students in schools with a GSA were less likely to

0% “Gay” used in Negative Way (e.g., “that’s so gay”)

“No Homo”

Other Homophobic Remarks

NJ Law: Schools Must Accommodate Trans Students

The firestorm that erupted in response to North Carolina’s HB2—the now infamous “bathroom bill”—has trained a light on transgender discrimination in K-12 schools around the country. In New Jersey, some school districts, including those in East Windsor, Princeton, West WindsorPlainsboro, and Hopewell Valley, have seized the opportunity to get out in front of the debate, adopting proactive policies that allow students to use the facilities that match their gender identity. In May, Highland Park schools became the latest, going a step further with a measure that

50 ▪ north jersey pride 2016 ▪

Negative Remarks about Gender Expression

Negative Remarks about Transgender People

allows students to use locker rooms and to participate in gendered sports activities based on their gender identity. “The fact that there are districts sending a clear message to their students that everyone is welcome is very important,” says Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, staff attorney in Lambda Legal’s national headquarters office. The law in New Jersey is very clear, he adds. “The law specifically states that single-sex facilities are to be granted access based on the gender identity. New Jersey public schools are public accommodations. So to the extent a school board is not doing the right thing, it’s a violation of the law. The law is already clear, but it’s incumbent upon us and other organizations to send a strong message about what the law requires.” GonzalezPagan encourages any student or parent facing a discriminatory policy to contact Lambda Legal at 1-866-542-8336.


80% 60% 60% 40%

68.1% 58.4%

MIDDLE SC HO OL

46.4% 49.3%

40%

44.5%

HIGH SC HO OL

52.3% 38.4% 31.0%

34.1% 28.2% 18.4% 17.5%

20% 20%

35.9% 26.3%

17.9% 7.9%

21.2% 23.6%

15.9% 12.5%

12.6%

5.6%

0% 0% Verbal Physical Harassment Other Physical Assault “Gay”Harassment used in “No Homo” Homophobic Negative Way Remarks BASED ON S EXUA L O RIENTATIO N (e.g., “that’s so gay”)

skip school and more likely to get good grades. They were also less likely to hear homophobic remarks in school on a daily basis (57% compared to 75%). 60% 58.4% Further, the brief found that LGBTQ students 46.4% in schools with a GSA were 40% significantly more likely 28.2% than students in schools 20% without one to be aware of a supportive adult at school

Verbal Harassment Physical Harassment Physical Assault Negative Remarks Negative Remarks about Gender about Transgender E N DE R E X P R E S S I O N Expression BAS E D O N GPeople

(84% compared to 56%). For an successful young adults, we need to meet them where they at-risk LGBTQ young person are, educate their peers, and struggling with depression give their parents the language and shame, one supportive to teach those lessons at home. adult is sometimes enough Only by standing up for them, to offer hope that things will loudly and proudly, will one day get better. our children learn to love Youth44.5% are discovering themselves—just as they are. ▪ who they are, whether about 38.4% their sexual orientation31.0% or 26.3% C .J . P 21.2% R INC E is a writer, proud gender identity, earlier than 18.4% 15.9% mom, and executive director of they ever have. If we want North Jersey Pride. them to grow into confident,

0% “Gay” used in Negative Way (e.g., “that’s so gay”)

“No Homo”

Other Homophobic Remarks

MMS: A Successful Pilot Program One way schools can increase LGBTQ visibility as well as teach acceptance and respect is to use opportunities such as the Week of Respect in October or the week in April leading up to the Day of Silence to incorporate those lessons into the curriculum. Last April, Maplewood Middle School (MMS) invited North Jersey Pride to host assemblies for 6th, 7th, and 8th grades on the topic of respecting difference and the importance of language. The program, “Stand Up, Speak Out,” which included a panel of students sharing their own experiences that was moderated by middle-grade author and speaker Tim Federle, exceeded Vice Principal Marc Gold’s expectations. “It was so powerful,

Negative Remarks about Gender Expression

Negative Remarks about Transgender People

to have one of our own students get up in front of his peers and share his story. You could have heard a pin drop in that room. You don’t find that often in middle school during an assembly,” says Gold. He adds that the MMS administration is committed to starting a GSA and is currently looking for the right faculty member to spearhead it. “We talk about being inclusive, and all these buzzwords in education, but they’re just talk, unless you follow it up with action. This is a population in our community that we need to embrace with open arms. All means all at this school.” Gold adds that simply having the “Stand Up, Speak Out” sticker up on his door has been a powerful symbol of acceptance and an invitation to students to bring their full selves in when they enter. “It’s a signal to those individuals that it really is an open door for them. I never thought about that, but a little symbol is not really so little anymore.”

▪ standing up for our kids ▪

51


CONGRATULATIONS TO N O R T H J E R S E Y P R I D E !

FROM ALL YOUR FRIENDS AT BETH EL Congregation Beth El is a member organization org of the Big Tent Judaism Coalition of inclusive communities, and welcomes people of all ages and backgrounds to join us on our journey—learned or novice, born Jewish or living Jewishly, single or partnered, gay or straight, seeking prayer or seeking community.

Thelma K. Reisman Preschool • Jewish Learning Center 52 ▪ north jersey pride 2016 ▪


Facing the Future BY CHRISTIAN FUSCARINO Executive Director, Garden State Equality

I still remember my first day at Columbia High School, walking the halls as a freshman and feeling amazed by the diversity. I had recently moved from Belmar, a Jersey Shore town that was not nearly as diverse as Maplewood/South Orange.

LGBTQ organization looks like in a postmarriage equality state.

At the time, I knew I was different and that I was attracted to boys. What I didn’t yet know was how to act on those feelings or what that meant with regard to my identity as a young gay person. The community in Maplewood/South Orange helped me define myself and over a decade later, as I lead New Jersey’s largest civil rights organization, I still carry some of those values in my work.

As my friend Alan van Capelle says, “equality is the basement and justice is the ceiling.” The path ahead for Garden State Equality lies not with our past accomplishments; it lies with the relationships we can develop and the communities we can bring together to advocate for change.

I was surrounded by a loving, extremely encouraging community, which influenced me to become an activist. I am particularly grateful to my friends and mentors, Sam Joseph of South Orange and Bonnie Magnuson of Maplewood. I was trained through the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and continued by founding a leadership organization for young people in our community called The Pride Network. Shortly after, I was brought on by former Empire State Pride Agenda leader, Alan van Capelle, to lead national social justice campaigns at Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice and recently finished my time with him at Educational Alliance on the Lower East Side in Manhattan helping lower income communities realize their American Dream. Today, as I lead Garden State Equality, I recognize that the organization has been at the forefront of LGBTQ issues for over a decade and should be proud of its numerous accomplishments. But everywhere in this country people are wondering what an

They are going to find out right here in New Jersey, and I am hoping that you will join me in GSE’s next chapter.

We will be an organization that is representative of the community we serve as well as the richly diverse state we live in. We will forge coalitions and partnerships with all of those who encounter discrimination in any form. Together we will create an atmosphere of acceptance and understanding that benefits everyone, regardless of age, race, religion, gender identity or sexual orientation. This is the vision that was first instilled in me during my time at Columbia High School and one I bring with me to Garden State Equality. Only by working together will we achieve true equality and justice, not just for the LGBTQ community, but also for all those who continue to have their rights denied. In the coming months, Garden State Equality will lay out an aggressive mission for how LGBTQ people and our allies can participate in a broader social justice movement. We have a dynamic and vibrant LGBTQ community and we are going to ensure that every person in this state has the chance to lead their fullest lives regardless of who they love or how they express their gender. I hope you will join me.

▪ standing▪up section for our title kids ▪

53


let’s not go backwards

The HIV epidemic is not over. Black gay men, in particular, need our help and support more than ever. BY GARY PAUL WRIGHT

kim7 / Shutterstock.com

H

IV and AIDS are not front-page news items these days. If you’re not working in this field, the subject is virtually off the map. As co-founder and executive director of the African American Office of Gay Concerns (AAOGC), it’s my job to make HIV interesting. We call ourselves a “Center for HIV Testing, Prevention and Resources,” a catchy tagline that encompasses the reality of what we’re striving to do. When our office doors officially opened in 2002, HIV and AIDS were still big-time news. And here we were, 54 ▪ north jersey pride 2016 ▪

an upstart communitybased organization, vying for funds that the state and federal governments were granting in order to fight the growing epidemic. But we had a specific target population. Black. Gay. Men. We became the first openly gay, openly black New Jersey CBO funded by the New Jersey Department of Health to provide HIV prevention services to the black, gay population in Newark. Along with my board of directors, I was pretty sure that we’d be in business for only a couple of years. I mean, The-Powers-That-Be had been telling the world that a cure was just around the corner. Unfortunately, what they didn’t tell us was that the street we were on was actually a boulevard, long as hell, and the corner was more like the far end of the proverbial tunnel, and we’ve yet to see the light. Or, perhaps, we see the light, but we haven’t quite reached it. It has

been fifteen years since the inception of the AAOGC, and infections in our target audience continue to rise, with young black men who have sex with men (MSM) being the highest risk factor not only in New Jersey, but also nationally. In fact, globally, MSMs continue to be the most stigmatized and discriminated population when it comes to access to health care. The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified them as one of the four hardest hit and hardest to reach populations—along with transgender women, sex workers and intravenous drug users. MSMs are often sex workers and injection drug users as well, so the systems are really stacked against them. Black gay men (BGM) are far more likely to become infected with HIV compared with their white counterparts. Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


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Source: Center for Disease Control

(CDC) issued a statement that one-half of BGMs will become HIV-infected in their lifetime. In 2001, the CDC stated that BGMs in their 20s were the highest risk population for HIV infection in the nation, and that 30% were already infected. For Hispanics, the number was 15%, for non-Hispanic whites it was 7%, and only 3% for Asians. A few years after that announcement, they said that 46% of black gay men were already infected. Now they’ve upped that figure to over 50%, with new infections particularly high for young men who have sex with men (YMSM) between the ages of 18 – 29. The most recent and alarming numbers from the CDC: at the current rates, 1 in 2 African American MSMs and 1 in 4 Hispanic MSMs will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime, compared with 1 in 11 white MSMs. With decreases in the number of infections found in women, infants and children, and even injection drug users, it seems unfair that one population still carries the burden of HIV. Studies have shown that BGMs are not having more sex than non-black populations. Black men are using condoms at the same rate, if not more often than their white counterparts. Our risk factors are no more astounding than the rest of the country, yet

we remain the highest at-risk population. One reason could be that the pool of sexual partners in our community is smaller and more concentrated, and that the community viral load (number of persons infected with HIV) is already very high. Most BGMs tend to have sex within their own race these days, and many are practicing sero-sorting, having sex with someone perceived to have the same serostatus (being HIVnegative or HIV-positive), and many young MSMs are having sex with older men who either do not know their own status or have not been tested and may be HIV-positive and don’t know it. My biggest concern is this: if “science” can’t figure out why black gay men are at such risk, how the hell can my little organization be expected to come up with solutions? First of all, I’m not a researcher with unlimited funds. I’m not

at a university with a large staff and a budget in the millions of dollars. I am not a politician with big hands on purse strings doling out cash to the masses. I am a small agency in downtown Newark, the epicenter of the HIV epidemic in New Jersey, with a fiscal budget well under $400,000 yearly. We have a staff of five, and yet we are expected to save our community from AIDS. Our principal funder is the New Jersey Dept. of Health, for which I am forever grateful, because without them we wouldn’t exist. And I can count on one hand how many “private” donors we have, and I wouldn’t have to use my thumb. We do not get support locally. Period. Everyone knows who we are. We’re out, loud, and vocal, but that doesn’t pay the rent, nor does it allow us to do alternative programming. Because our funds come from the CDC through the state DOH, we must do what they ask us to. This means the


“Behavioral Interventions” we implement must be approved or at least supported by the CDC. And take it from me— they are not working. Yet, we don’t get paid for thinking outside the box. Creativity costs big bucks. Compliance? Not so much, but when it comes to our target population, it could be a hindrance. All we can really do is what’s asked of us, and wait until the CDC decides to change course—yet again—and come up with another approach or strategy. This year, it is PreExposure Prophylaxis, or PrEP, using the HIV med otherwise known as Truvada, which the CDC has approved as the newest tool in the HIV prevention toolkit. Studies have proven that PrEP has a 90%–96% efficacy rate if taken properly—meaning every day. So now, we’ve been mandated to test folks, link them to care if they are HIV-positive or counsel them to take PrEP if they are HIV-negative. In fact, I attended the 2015 HIV Prevention Conference this past December, and I had the chance to have a conversation with Jonathan Mermin, director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). I told him how I’d been “handing out

This community has not forgotten the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment. condoms for the last thirty years.” Our conversation was pleasant, but in the end, he looked me right in the eye and said, “Just make sure you’re including PrEP when you’re giving out condoms and lube.” So, I got the word from the director himself in no uncertain terms—push PrEP! It also tells me that the CDC is going to be pushing PrEP down our throats for at least another year or two, until they come up with another strategy. Please know that I am all for PrEP, certainly for those persons at highest risk (those who have many sexual partners); those persons in sero-discordant relationships (where one partner is positive and the other is negative); sex workers who may be exposed to HIV on a daily basis; and couples trying to conceive. And even then, I recommend the continued use of condoms and lubricants, because PrEP will not protect one from sexually transmitted diseases or infections. But I gotta tell you, it’s hard counseling a population that knows that no government-approved intervention is working for them, but now want them to invest in a costly

regimen that may or may not work for them. This community has not forgotten the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment, the infamous clinical study conducted between 1932 and 1972 by the U.S. Public Health Service studying the natural progression of untreated syphilis in rural African-American men in Alabama under the auspices of receiving free health care from the U.S. government. While taking PrEP would indeed allow BGMs to have regular access to health care providers, right now the cost of the medication along with an inherent fear of the medical profession is hindering this effort. Moreover, we need to address all of the social detriments that contribute to unhealthy outcomes for BGMs, including racism, homophobia, transphobia, HIV stigma and discrimination, homelessness, sexual violence, mental health, substance use and other disparities. Only then can we move forward, not backwards, in the fight against HIV. ▪ GA RY PAU L W R IGH T is

executive director of the African American Office of Gay Concerns. ▪ let’s not go backwards ▪

57


then & now then

Scene: Chicago suburbs c. 1983. My mother driving me and my sister Rachel to our hair appointments in her Buick Skylark. “Mom, are we there yet? I’m hot!” says Rachel. “I don’t know why you’re wearing those leg warmers on such a warm day. Just roll down your window.” “The handle is hard to turn and my legs are stuck to the car seats . . . and Deborah is touching me!” “Girls! Everyone stop touching each other, and stop complaining. We’ll be at the beauty salon in about 10 minutes.” “I can’t believe we’re going to get our hair cut during Family Ties.” “Uch, both of my daughters should have such loving relationships with your husbands one day like Meredith Baxter Birney on that show. Anyway, it was the only appointment I could get with Bill for your perm. And when we get to the salon, ladies, don’t stare at Bill like you did the last time. Just because he wears red, leather pants in 90 degree heat, you don’t need 58 ▪ north jersey pride 2016 ▪

to stare. Those people can’t help it that they’re so . . . . eccentric.” “Those people, Mom? Do you mean gay people?” “Yes, those people.” “Kids in my school say our gym teacher is a lesbian,” I said. “Why, because she looks like a man?” Rachel asked. “I don’t care for this conversation. These amoral subjects are not the things young ladies should discuss. Let’s talk about normal things that normal people do like reading books and going to college and getting married like Meredith Baxter Birney to that gorgeous husband David.”

now

Scene: South Orange, New Jersey. Present Day. I sit with my children in a waiting room. “Can Jacob come over tomorrow?” asks my older son. “Jacob with the two dads or Jacob with the single mom?” “Jacob with the two dads.” “Sure,” I answer while his eyes stay fixed on the game he’s playing on the

BY DEBORAH GOLDSTEIN

cell phone. “Mom, what is that picture on that bathroom door?” asks my younger son. “It’s actually three symbols in one.” I get up to point to each of the three parts of the symbol on the door. “This one is for men. This one for women. And this one is for transgender. Putting them all together means it’s an all-gender bathroom.” “So everyone can use it?” “Yup.” “Cool.” And with that, he turns his attention to his older brother who is playing a game on a cell phone. “Hey! Stop touching me!!” “Boys, if you don’t behave, I’ll make you listen to AM radio in the car ride home.” “Huh??” “Never mind.” ▪ D E BO R A H G O L D ST E IN

publishes the community LGBTQ website VillageQ as well as her own medley of miscellany, Peaches & Coconuts. She lives in South Orange with her lady-spouse and their two sons.


lgbtq resources + support Callen-Lorde Community Health Center

Gay Activist Alliance in Morris County

NEW YORK CITY

MORRISTOWN

212.271.7200

973.285.1595

callen-lorde.org

gaamc.org

Callen-Lorde Community Health Center promotes health education and wellness and advocates for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender health issues through providing affordable, sensitive, quality health care services targeted to New York’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities. Essex LGBT RAIN Foundation

GAAMC is a volunteer-run organization that provides social, educational, and outreach programs for the LGBTQ community in an effort to maintain a positive, healthy, respectful and supportive environment in a safe space. HMI: New Jersey NEWARK

EAST ORANGE

973.722.5488

973.675.6780

hmi.org/newjersey

essexlgbthousing.org

RAIN provides emergency shelter services to address the emergent need of LGBTQ individuals experiencing crisis leading to homelessness. Our programs promote selfsufficiency and independence to enhance our residents’ ability to function within their communities, and aim to help adolescents lead healthy, productive and meaningful lives. Garden State Equality’s Bullying Resource Center MONTCLAIR 973.473.5428 gardenstateequality.org/issues/bullying

Garden State Equality is New Jersey’s statewide advocacy and education organization for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. Garden State Equality’s Anti-Bullying Helpline (1-877-NJBULLY) operates between 10am–7pm Mon- Fri, available for students or parents/ concerned friends of a bullied student. 60 ▪ north jersey pride 2016 ▪

The first comprehensive LGBTQ youth out-of-school-time program in New Jersey dedicated to providing youth who are at risk of harassment, abuse, neglect, homelessness and disconnection with a safe, supportive environment in which to grow and thrive. Monday-Friday 3pm6:00pm. Hudson Pride Connection Center JERSEY CITY 201.963.4779 hudsonpride.org

“Hudson Pride Connections Center is a home and voice for the diverse LGBTQ community and our allies that advocates for our physical, mental, social and political well-being. We create safe and vibrant spaces to gather and celebrate our lives.”


Newark LGBTQ Community Center

The Pride Center

NEWARK

HIGHLAND PARK

973.424.9555

732.846.2232

newarklgbtqcenter.org

pridecenter.org

Our Youth

Project WOW Youth Center

JERSEY CITY

ESSEX COUNTY

201.303.8160

973.412.7080

ouryouthnynj.org

njcri.org/services/project-wow

Founded in direct response to the many murders, suicides and hate crimes over the years against lesbian, gay and transgender people in Newark, the mission of the Newark LGBTQ Community Center is to create and sustain a safe space that fosters a better quality of life for our community and allies in the Greater Newark area.

Our Youth is designed to provide young people of all sexual preferences with securing jobs, searching for college opportunities and scholarships, providing health referrals and weekly support and social events. PFLAG of North Jersey MONTCLAIR 908.300.4227 pflagnj.org

This group, which meets monthly, is dedicated to providing support, education and advocacy to LGBTQ people, their families and their friends. Meetings second Thursdays at 7:30pm in Montclair.

The Pride Center of New Jersey is a welcoming place offering numerous social, supportive, educational, entertaining and fun opportunities in over twenty groups for LGBTQ men, women and teens to meet, socialize, share, bond, and grow in selfawareness.

The Project WOW! Youth Center provides HIV/STI prevention and substance abuse services to LGBTQ youth between the ages 13 and 24 at high risk for acquiring or transmitting HIV/STIs residing in Essex and Union Counties and provides opportunities for the youth to socialize and build supportive networks while learning new HIV/STI prevention skills in a safe space. The Trevor Project Crisis Hotline: 1.866.488.7386 thetrevorproject.org

The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing free and confidential crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth through their 24/7 hotline or online text chat.

â–Ş lgbtq resources + support â–Ş

61


how to talk to your kids about hb2

H

B2. Perhaps you’ve heard of it. It’s the North Carolina law that criminalizes trans people for using the “wrong” bathroom and effectively decriminalizes discrimination in workplace and business settings. While it is far from the only law of its kind, it is arguably the most famous of the laws and bills popping up across the country aimed squarely at halting LGBTQ equality. These blatantly unconstitutional and unAmerican laws can be difficult to explain to adults, let alone children. Lucky for you, Pride Guide reader, I’m here to help and I have plenty of experience explaining the remarkable stupidity of our elected officials to the wee little ones. Why is everyone suddenly obsessed with where people pee?

When politicians are dumb as buckets of hair and find themselves in positions of power, they distract their 62 ▪ north jersey pride 2016 ▪

constituents from the fact that they’re morally bankrupt jackasses who couldn’t successfully direct traffic down a one-way street by scaring the crap out of them. Literally.

BY ROGER IAN ROSEN

public facility is somehow necessary for the protection of women and children.” What would happen if a trans person tried to buy a semiautomatic weapon? Would they have to present an ID?

Huh?

When a politician is unable or unwilling to help real people in real need, they create boogeymen or, in this case, boogeytranspeople. “Don’t worry that you’re struggling to survive, struggling to work or struggling to pay your bills even though you’re living modestly and working three jobs,” they say. “Don’t worry that the bridge you’re driving over is on the verge of collapse. Worry about trans people in the bathroom. And while you’re worrying about it, never question the idea that presenting an ID before purchasing a semiautomatic weapon is an infringement on one’s rights but trans people presenting an ID before peeing in a

Depends if they plan on carrying it into the restroom. Why do people need to be protected from trans people peeing? What makes trans people in bathrooms so scary?

Nothing. Factually, nothing. There are literally zero reported incidents of trans people behaving inappropriately in bathrooms. But politicians hell-bent on creating divisiveness and manufacturing fear have never let facts get in the way. In this case, they have painted trans people as predators and banked on this message resonating due to the general public’s ignorance of all matters relating to gender identity and expression. They turn


We don’t care which facility you use, as long as you actually use one. iStock.com/AwakenedEye

ignorance to fear, let fear boil over into anger, and voila! Faster than you can say “Fox News Special Report,” the public is up in arms about trans people using the bathroom. Are trans people predators?


No, of course not. Trans people are trans people. Predators are predators. Take Dennis Hastert, for example. He’s not trans, but he most certainly is a predator.

boys he “mistreated.” That’s a predator. So actual predators, if they’re powerful Republicans, are just mildly flawed, but trans people…

...who have zero history of ever behaving inappropriately in bathrooms or locker rooms or anywhere else…

Does HB2 actually protect our women and children?

It does quite the opposite. First and foremost, it puts trans men, women and children in danger by making their very existence suspect. It also puts anyone who doesn’t fall into neatly defined gender boxes at risk since it emboldens pretty much everyone with a misinformed opinion to harass whomever they want, whenever they want. There have already been accounts of bathroom vigilantism. So trans people have never harmed anyone in this setting, but the self-appointed bathroom police are harassing anyone they deem to be using the “wrong” bathroom?



...are dangerous?

According to the people passing and supporting these laws, yes.

That’s correct.

How is that possible?

We win by talking. We win by listening. We win by amplifying trans voices. We win by making sure that the truth is part of a conversation overrun with lies and fear. We win by never letting the fear-mongers have the last word. ▪

Who’s Dennis Hastert?


Dennis Hastert is a Republican and the longest serving Speaker of the House in American history. This man, who was 3rd in line for the presidency, was recently sentenced to 15 months in a federal prison for a bank fraud case linked to allegations that he sexually abused boys when he was a high school wrestling coach. The judge in the case referred to Dennis Hastert as a “serial child molester” and Hastert himself apologized to the

idiot on NJ Transit making it to a bathroom at all. We don’t care which facility you use, as long as you actually use one.

Well, some politicians care less about the safety and security of children than they do about hating and demonizing LGBTQ people. Do we have these horrible laws in New Jersey?

No. New Jersey has some of the most progressive LGB & T protections in the country. New Jerseyans are significantly less concerned about peeing in a restroom with a trans person than we are about some drunken

What do we do to stop these laws and all the misinformation?

R O GE R IA N R O S E N is a South

Orange resident, actor, writer, activist, husband, son, brother, uncle, step-father & angry gay who spends his free time pondering universal questions, like whether or not Pat Robertson is animatronic.

▪ how to talk to your kids about hb2 ▪

63


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Profile for North Jersey Pride

2016 North Jersey Pride Guide Magazine  

The annual Guide to North Jersey Pride offers a schedule of events, lineup of festival entertainment and articles about LGBTQ current events...

2016 North Jersey Pride Guide Magazine  

The annual Guide to North Jersey Pride offers a schedule of events, lineup of festival entertainment and articles about LGBTQ current events...

Profile for njpride
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