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"If you are a dreamer, come in. If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a Hope-er, a Pray-er, a Magic Bean buyer; if you're a pretender, come sit by my fire. For we have some flax-golden tales to spin. Come in! Come in!" -- Shel Silverstein

Friday, June 08, 2007

Black Gay Pride: June 11th, 9 AM, Newark City Hall

News from Laquetta C.Nelson, MSW, founder and former director, NEWARK PRIDE

May 11, 2003, Sakia Gunn (15 years old) was murdered on the streets of Newark because she identified herself as being a lesbian when she and some of her friends were waiting at a bus stop, trying to get home after a night out in NYC. Many lesbians, young and old, in Newark and around the country were deeply hurt by what happened to Sakia. As a matter of fact, the whole community grieved and mourned with her family and friends at their loss.

Sakia was young, Black, female, lesbian, and came from a working class family. All of the civil rights organizations and the majority of the Black Churches were silent. She was mentioned a few times in a few news articles - nowhere near as much press coverage as Matthew Shepard. She was not important enough for them. But she was very important to those of us in the lgbt community in Newark.

To address the concerns and needs of this community the Newark Pride Alliance (NPA) was created by some very courageous and compassionate lgbt community leaders. The mission, in short, was to organize this at risk community and to provide leadership that was visible, vocal, out, and unafraid to speak truth to power regarding equality and justice for this community. Please keep in mind that a young life was taken that brought all of this about.

One of the many things that were done on behalf of this community, a year after Sakia's murder(May, 2004), was that the lgbt flag was raised, along with the African American and the American Flags and carried down the middle of Broad Street in Newark, NJ for the very first time ever in the African American Heritage Day Parade.

Many had asked the organizers why they did not have their own parade and they answered, "We are not separate from the African American community. We are a part of it and we deserve, just as much as anyone else, to march in this parade. With all of the suffering that our community is enduring they need this more than you will ever know."

So, this small but brave group of lesbians, gays, and transgender folks walked proudly behind the Newark Pride Alliance banner carrying those flags. The marchers were afraid, not knowing how the people would respond to them. But they understood the importance and significance of what they were doing, so they marched on. To their surprise, they were well received by the onlookers at the parade (their fellow citizens).

Some of them even clapped and cheered for the marchers with the rainbow colored flag. People came to them and thanked them for the pride that was instilled in everyone who witnessed this historic event. Attempts were made to get the rainbow flag raised at Newark City Hall. But the organizers were given all sorts of reasons why it could not happen. The organizers kept moving forward with hopes that one day the rainbow flag would be raised at Newark City Hall.

This is the good news! THE RAINBOW FLAG WILL BE RAISED AT NEWARK CITY HALL on Monday (6/11/07) morning, following a press conference at 9 AM and will remain there for the entire Pride Week celebrations!

If you can, please come and witness this historical event. Encourage others to come. We are all in this together.

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