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  • Writer's pictureThis Is Rutherford

2021 Pride Flag Raising

By Jennifer Ersalesi

Photo credit: Lori Griffin. Balloon arch decorations by Elizabeth Liu.

This past Saturday, June 5th, a large group of people from the Borough of Rutherford and neighboring communities gathered together on the lawn of Rutherford’s Borough Hall for the Third Annual Pride Flag Raising.

Rob Lyons and Christine Beidel. Photo by Jodi Chambliss

Christine Beidel, Organizer of this year's event, opened the festivities by welcoming everyone and thanking all of those who worked so hard to help organize this year’s Pride Flag Raising.

Councilmember Maria Begg-Roberson greeted and welcomed Mayor Frank Nunziato who made a special appearance at the event as he is still recovering from brain surgery. Begg-Roberson thanked the Mayor, Council members, and Acting Mayor Mark Goldsack. “The Borough of Rutherford recognizes the importance of equality and freedom,” Begg-Roberson read from the Borough of Rutherford statement. She also read the Proclamation recognizing June 2021 as Pride Month in the Borough.

Bergen County Commissioner Tracy Silna Zur spoke about the importance of the community members of Rutherford coming together to raise the Pride Flag together. “Rutherford and Bergen County, as a whole, are about emerging from isolation. It is fitting that this event is the first big event we have been able to come together for after isolation...your community is saying ‘we are here with you’” Zur said as she smiled. Zur went on to explain how proud she is that Bergen County is the first county in the state to form an LGBTQ Advisory Committee.

Nico Schumacher, a sophomore at Rutherford High School, spoke about how she has felt growing up as a bisexual in Rutherford. She explained, “I grew up feeling normal like every LGBTQ person should feel.” Additionally, she spoke about her family, Rutherford public schools, and the people in her hometown who support the LGBTQ population.

Rob Lyons. Photo Credit: Jodi Chambliss

Rob Lyons, Chairperson of the Rutherford Pride Alliance, asked all in attendance to applaud everyone who showed up to be a part of this event. He welcomed the RPA Board members and the Mayor and Council. He thanked Bea Goldberg and Coccia Realty for giving the RPA the opportunity to do a window display that showcases the photos taken during the “Humans Being” photoshoots. Lyons told the community, “Thank you to the Rutherford Civil Rights Commission, the 50+ members of the RPA, County Commissioners, and Congressman Bill Pascrell.” Before introducing Congressman Pascrell, Lyons explained the design of the new Progressive Pride flag. There is now a chevron pattern that includes the colors white, pink, and light blue. Those three colors represent the transgender flag. The brown and black stripes within the chevron pattern represent people of color and those who have lost their lives to AIDS.

After the Hasbrouck Heights Mayor and Council had voted down the raising of the Pride Flag, the RPA invited members of the Hasbrouck Heights to join Rutherford for their flag raising. Hasbrouck Heights Council member, Christopher Hillman, attended the event. Lyons gifted Hillman and the town of Hasbrouck Heights a Progressive Pride Flag.

Congressman Bill Pascrell was impressed by the great turnout and he thanked and congratulated everyone for being there. He explained, “People’s minds and hearts have to be changed...we all need to be standing up for the America we all want to live in.”

Minutes before the Pride Flag was raised, Lyons spoke about the many reasons the flag is raised and exclaimed, “We are here celebrating love and the uniqueness of our identities.” Once the flag was raised during loud applause, Lyons invited everyone to dance as the DJ started the music.

Photo credit: Beth Rolon

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