June is a special time for the LGBTQIA+ community, inviting folks to live out loud and own exactly who they are. Affirmation and celebration of one’s identity are critical in changing hearts and minds and forging a more diverse and inclusive society for us all in the process. Joining in on the celebrations, representatives and residents of the City of Trenton gathered to engage in this year’s festivities.
On Wednesday, June 21st, representatives of the City of Trenton were joined by members and allies of the LGBTQIA+ community for a flag-raising ceremony at Trenton’s City Hall. Before the Pride Flag was proudly waved over this great community, guests had the opportunity to hear from several special guests, including Mayor Reed Gusciora, fashion designer and TV star Qaysean Williams, and members of the Trenton City Council, including Teska Frisby, Crystal Feliciano, Yasmin Gonzalez, and Jennifer Williams. This ceremony comes at a historic time for Trenton, as the city’s leadership now includes an out and proud Mayor and the state’s first transgender Councilwoman, Jennifer Williams.
Mayor Gusciora remarked, “We have come a long way. I’m always reminded of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official in San Francisco in the 70s, who said, ‘how can people change their views on us unless they know who we are?’. And that’s what pride is about, to come out and demonstrate that we’re no different. We all breathe the same air; we all believe in the same love.”
Council President Teska Frisby also had some powerful thoughts to share: “If you love yourself, you’ll want to respect and love everybody else around you regardless of who they choose to love because that should be a free choice. I’m grateful that we have an incredible Mayor who is proud of who he is and embraces everybody and everything. Being of one heart, mind, and body will help make a difference.”
Councilwoman Feliciano echoed this sentiment: “We are all one and the same, and we are here together to make a difference. I am excited for all of the work that we are going to continue to do, and I am excited to stand with everyone that will come forward to do good works for the City of Trenton.”
Guests then had the opportunity to hear from Councilwoman Jennifer Williams, who proudly holds the title of New Jersey’s first transgender councilperson in Trenton and throughout the entire State of New Jersey. Reflecting on the day’s proceedings, Williams noted, “When I was a young child, I got the chance at seven years of age to meet Mayor Holland when he opened the grocery store on Hamilton Avenue. I cannot imagine being that age and seeing myself later in life being able to stand at a podium with my Mayor and my City Council and being able to lead my city to a better place.”
Last to the podium was Qaysean Williams, Trenton native, designer, and star of Netflix’s Next in Fashion. In his inspirational speech, he noted, “Regardless of skin color, regardless of how you identify, we’re all human beings at the end of the day. And I just want everybody here to remember that when you see someone walking down the street, this may not necessarily be somebody you identify with. However, think about them as your brother; think about them as your neighbor, sister, or friend. We all need love, we all need support, and to be appreciated. With unity and with numbers, that’s the only way we can grow and elevate.”
Once attendees heard from this distinguished panel of guest speakers, the countdown was on, and the Pride flag was officially raised. Met with jubilant applause and celebration, the flag was formally hoisted above the City of Trenton. If you drive past City Hall, you can still see the banner proudly flying for all to see. No matter what way, big or small, celebrating love and acceptance in our community is what Pride Month is all about.