By John Burton
RED BANK – The Two River Theater will host on June 20 what organizers and local officials are labeling the first official Two River Pride event.
The theater, 21 Bridge Ave., will feature speakers and performers from 6-9 p.m. to highlight the accomplishments and commemorate the struggles of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, according to Stephanie Coen, the theater’s associate artistic director.
The theater will be adding its voice to the thousands of similar pride events scheduled to take place during June, which is National Gay Pride Month. Plans call for a focus on young voices and will feature an opportunity for area youth to share their stories and experiences, as well as to hear from adult role models, according to information provided by Coen.
President Clinton declared June as Gay and Lesbian Pride Month back on June 2, 2000. President Obama followed in calling for June to be Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month.
In Red Bank for the last few years the borough council has passed resolutions offering its support for Gay Pride Month.
The theater’s event will feature a performance by the Giving Voice Choir; an open mic segment; and comments from Detective David L. D’Amico, who investigates bias crimes for the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office. Also speaking will be Brenda S. “Sue” Fulton, executive director and co-founder of Knights Out, an organization made up of LGBT West Point graduates, and a founding member of OutServe, a group representing actively serving LGBT military members.
Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna is expected to read and formally sign a proclamation honoring the day and event and participating youth will have a chance to have their personal experiences recorded on video to be used as part of an anti-bullying campaign for local schools, according to Coen.
Along with a reception, featuring food from local restaurants, the event will screen the documentary Stonewall Uprising, detailing the 40-plus years of the modern gay rights struggle.
In addition to the theater, sponsors of the event are Red Bank Borough Council members Kathy Horgan and Edward Zipprich; David Pascale, chair of Red Bank’s Human Relations Committee; and Make it Better for Youth, a consortium of Monmouth County LGBT youth.
For Zipprich, an openly gay man, “the basic message is,” for young people who identify with being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transsexual, “that it does get better and there are people who do care and are willing to help.”
The event is open to the public, but a $5 contribution is suggested; proceeds will go to Make It Better For Youth.