Mayor Ravi Bhalla, Hudson Pride Center, elected officials, and residents kicked off Pride Month with a Pride Flag raising outside city hall, and volunteers painted the crosswalks near city hall with the rainbow colors of the Pride Flag.
Following the flag raising, Bhalla officiated at the renewal of the wedding vows of Hoboken residents Migdalia Pagan-Milano and Lisa Milano, who celebrated 10 years of marriage this year.
They met in Hoboken in 2009 and married in Belgium in 2011, as marriage between same-sex couples was not legal in New Jersey at the time.
“Hoboken is, and will always continue to be a city that accepts, loves and celebrates our LGBTQ+ community,” Bhalla said. “Thank you to the many volunteers who helped us repaint our Pride crosswalks, which sends a clear signal that that Hoboken is a safe space for all of our residents. I also send my congratulations to Migdalia Pagan-Milano and Lisa Milano on their renewal of wedding vows!”
Hoboken’s LGBTQ+ Liaison Laura Knittel spoke about the the rights of those whom society has historically marginalized.
“In 2021 our current state of affairs, as it pertains to gay rights, racial inequality, gender equity, and many other human rights, systemic structures in our society are in need of development and great change,” she said. “I ask all of you to consider how you or someone you know can seize this moment in history to make an impact. All of these rights intersect and are deeply connected. It is quite possible, that if we grab hold now, we can unravel and have new understanding around these differences and work together to build stronger communities with much less hate, violence, and disparities.
“Hoboken has been and continues to be positioned and in action within this movement. To all those of the LGTBQ community, along with our friends, family, and alliances thank you. We see you, we love you, and we are here for you. Happy Gay Pride here and around the world, and we even have to include all those who are now serving in outer space, and no matter how far away they are, we see them too!” .
Equality, visibility, acceptance
“[I’m] really proud to be the first openly gay person elected to municipal office in Hudson County,” tweeted Councilman Michael DeFusco. “I can’t say it’s always easy, but on days like this, where we raise the pride flag in Hoboken, I’m reminded we’re headed in the right direction toward equality [and] acceptance.”
Executive Director of the Hudson Pride Center Elizabeth Schedl said Pride month is a celebration but also a time of education and awareness.
“Pride for us, and Pride Month is a combination of celebration, protest, support, and awareness,” she said. “We are celebrating our lives, our identities, and our community. But it is also a time for us to educate and bring awareness to issues the Queer community still faces, especially to those most discriminated against, like LGBTQ+ people of color and transgender and nonbinary folks. Equality, visibility, acceptance, and legal rights and protections for all LGBTQ+ people are at the heart of any Pride Celebration. For Hudson Pride, we are dedicated to our community 365 days a year. We are here, and we want to help!”
In April, Hudson Pride Center announced a new partnership with investment management company Lord, Abbett & Co. LLC, which will support the nonprofit’s creation of a new home for the center in the Journal Square neighborhood of Jersey City.
The center, which had operated out of offices in CarePoint Christ Hospital, transitioned all its services from in-person to remote and virtual services due to the pandemic in early 2020.
Over the next three years Lord, Abbett & Co will contribute $700,000 to the nonprofit, With its financial support, HPC will be able to to provide a secure and safe physical home for the LGBTQ+ community in a brand-new center in Jersey City and enhance its services and programming.
For now, the HPC will continue to use digital platforms to provide services.
For more information on the HPC, go to https://hudsonpride.org/
Last year, for the third year in a row, Hoboken received a perfect 100 percent rating from the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) Municipal Equality Index (MEI), an annual examination of policies relating to LGBTQ+ laws in over 500 municipalities across the United States.
Hoboken is one of three municipalities in New Jersey, and one of 94 cities across the country to earn a 100 percent rating from HRC.