For one moment at the end of June, the normally quiet Hoboken Public Library was roused with cheers of “Hoboken pride!” as performance artist Annie Lanzillotto took the stage for the final hurrah of the library’s month-long schedule of events for Gay Pride Month.
The commemoration was the first gay pride celebration to take place at the library in known history.
Though the library had planned to display lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) books throughout the month, Laura Knittel, the library’s community outreach specialist, said she was inspired to do more.
This year’s programming included various movie events, distribution of educational materials, and the performance by Lanzillotto.
“It may be a small gesture to some, but it’s huge to others.” – Laura Knittel
As one of the “last bastions of free, open space,” Knittel believes the library is a perfect place to house such programming.
“I feel very blessed that we’ve been given this opportunity,” she said. “Words escape me to think of what kind of impact this could bring. It may be a small gesture to some, but it’s huge to others.”
Approximately 20 people attended the most recent event, which included Lanzillotto’s unique brand of comedy and spoken word.
To avoid competing with popular New York City events in early summer, most pride events in Hudson County take place during the month of August.
In fact, Jersey City will play host to a series of activities later in the summer.
The 10th Annual LGBT Pride Festival and first ever parade (to be held on Aug. 28) are currently being organized by Jersey City Lesbian and Gay Outreach, a non-profit organization.
Meanwhile, Hudson Pride, a grant-funded organization located in Jersey City, is helping to plan some events for later this summer. They offer both adult support groups and services for teens.
Unfortunately, the organization, which is heavily funded by grants, recently received news that 85 percent of funding for its youth program would be cut for the upcoming fiscal year, which began on July 1.
As a result, five of the 15 paid employees at the organization may be laid off for a program that serves 300 kids.
In addition to education on issues such as HIV prevention, the program provides a safe space to hang out after school three days a week. From 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. young people can chat, dance, or watch TV. Then at 5 p.m. there is a facilitated discussion followed by a “family” dinner.
“It really provides a family type atmosphere that they’re not getting at home,” said Hudson Pride Executive Director Nancy Caamano.
The program also sponsors various events, including ice cream socials, annual prom, and “Next Top Model.”
“A lot of it is a sense of community,” said Caamano. “Teenagers already feel a sense of isolation, and on top of that their sexuality is added.”
To help save the program, the organization is planning a sustainability fundraising program. The program would invite individuals to sponsor a youth to attend the program for a year – for a cost of approximately $50 per month.
If successful, the fundraising program could also save some of the jobs. The details have not yet been announced.
For more information on events later this summer, visit www.jclgo.org or www.hudsonpride.org.
Lana Rose Diaz can be reached at email@example.com.