This is Rutherford Pride Alliance
Updated: Jun 2, 2019
By Jennifer Ersalesi
Each year, LGBTQ+ Pride Month is celebrated nationally in June to honor the 1969 Stonewall uprising in Greenwich Village. During this uprising, police raided Stonewall Inn, where individuals within the LGBT community gathered to spend time with others who did not judge or condemn them. The 1960’s were a difficult time for the gay community and this raid caused them to retaliate with violent demonstrations. These demonstrations became the cornerstone for further political activism. LGBTQ+ Pride Month was ultimately created to recognize the significant impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals have made locally, nationally and internationally.
In honor of this particular month, This is Rutherford interviewed Christine Beidel and Rob Lyons, who have been actively involved in the Rutherford Pride Alliance since its creation.
TIR: When was the Rutherford Pride Alliance created?
CB: We created the Alliance in the summer of 2018.
RL: A small group of residents got together at that time, probably around 8-10 of us. After one of our first meetings we created a Facebook group that quickly grew and now has 450+ group members. We also have about 20+ regular attendees that come to our monthly meetings.
TIR: Why did you want to create this organization in town?
CB: For rainbow crosswalks! I saw an article about Maplewood’s new rainbow crosswalks last year and posted it on the Facebook RIOT page to see what people thought about Rutherford following suit and was surprised at the overwhelmingly positive reactions. Rutherford’s Civil Rights Commission quickly asked for a committee to be formed so I met with John Baldasare and Karen Masullo one morning and the whole thing just took off!
RL: My husband and I were fortunate to be contacted when Christine, John and Karen were beginning to form the group. I grew up in Rutherford and we moved back about 4 years ago and we were hoping that a community group like this would form. It was perfect timing and it was exciting to see local LGBTQ+ residents and allies coming together to meet one another and determine how we can create social events, as well as support LGBTQ+ visibility and education in the community.
TIR: What are your goals as an organization?
RL: Our goals are to promote and foster LGBTQ+ inclusivity, visibility, and advocacy in the Rutherford, NJ area. We hope to create connections with other local community groups by supporting events and creating educational programs that will give back to our residents. We recently had a great opportunity to volunteer and participate in the town-wide clean up. It was a great opportunity to meet other residents and do something that supports Rutherford.
CB: As an LGBTQ+ ally for over 30 years, I want our town to be at the forefront of acceptance and inclusion of all our citizens.
TIR: How can members of the community get involved in the Rutherford Pride Alliance?
CB: We meet every month and are happy to add anyone to our membership rolls! We ask only that you are willing to support our mission: to foster LGBTQ+ inclusivity and visibility in the Rutherford, NJ area.”
RL: Also, join us on social media—Facebook and Instagram. In addition to our meetings and social groups, you can also reach out via email with any questions at RutherfordPrideAlliance@gmail.com. We’d love to hear what the community would like to see done, as well as answer any questions people may have about the LGBTQ+ community or resources.
TIR: What else do you want the community to understand about the Rutherford Pride Alliance?
CB: I am so proud to be a member of this group. In less than a year, we’ve managed to establish a real presence here in Rutherford and in neighboring towns. We’re thrilled to introduce ourselves to the entire community with this celebration.
RL: I’m so incredibly honored to lead and be a part of the Rutherford Pride Alliance. We have seen the community really come together to support this group and LGBTQ+ residents and allies. The support from our residents and town council has been amazing. We’ve had great opportunity to meet new people and hear their stories. It’s also incredible to see the ripple effect that we have had on other nearby towns, such as Lyndhurst, who also will be having their first Pride flag raising in June.
Also, make sure to check out our display in Coccia’s window on Park Avenue during June. It will be a great introduction to LGBTQ+ history, including the 50th anniversary of Stonewall. There will also be a special showcase that will display the Rutherford community and their own celebration of Pride!
TIR: On June 1, there will be a special pride flag raising. Where will that take place? Is the community invited?
CB: ABSOLUTELY! We want to have a huge celebration around the flag raising! It’s at Rutherford Borough Hall at 11 am on Saturday, June 1st. The more the merrier! We also hope that people will come dressed in their finest rainbow-colored attire.
RL: Just like the message of the flag, all are welcome! We are excited, not only to have our community present, but also have local and county level dignitaries, as well as, Christian Fuscarino, Executive Director of Garden State Equality, speaking. We also have our local youth singing at the event, as well.
TIR: Why is this flag raising so important to the Rutherford Pride Alliance and the town of Rutherford?
CB: The rainbow flag is a worldwide symbol of inclusion and acceptance and this is the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots that marked the beginning of the Pride movement. Rutherford is a wonderful town filled with all sorts of diversity and we have this month-long opportunity to shout out loud and proud
that we support each other in every way!
RL: To echo Christine, the flag is a symbol of inclusion. It’s a symbol of love and acceptance. By having this raised in Rutherford, it says to whoever sees it that Rutherford is a town that will not accept intolerance — All are welcome!