Princeton municipal officials recognized Pride Month with a flag raising ceremony at Monument Hall.
“It is not just a symbol. It is actually something that shows part of our beliefs,” Mayor Mark Freda said at the ceremony on June 3.
“I think it is important for people to know that Princeton is an inclusive community and that we are doing more than things that are symbols or symbolic. These are things we believe in. We want to be welcoming and open to all people.”
Local organizations and residents joined municipal officials for the ceremony. The Pride flag now flies underneath the American flag at Monument Hall to recognize National Pride Month during June.
“To have the flag raised here in Princeton reminds people that we are here. Right now, especially as a flashpoint in politics, where people are trying to say, ‘Have we gone too far and where have all these gay people come from’,” said Nick Di Domizio, who serves on Princeton’s Civil Rights Commission as a member and LGBTQ liaison. “It seems like a surge, but ‘no’ in fact we have always been here. The flag is a reminder that we will always be here and always fight for our rights.”
On grass near the flagpole and adjacent to the Princeton Battle Monument, those who attended the flag raising gathered around together to hear the Princeton Council read a proclamation proclaiming June 2022 as Pride Month in Princeton prior to the raising of the Pride flag.
“I found it particularly heartwarming to hear that seeing the flag in a community is a sign of reassurance when people drive through and are trying to figure out whether to live there,” Councilwoman Mia Sacks said. “I’m glad to see this flag flying in many places throughout our community. I am very proud of our town around this time of year and think we are a role model. This is an area we have made a lot of progress in.”
Pride Month is dedicated annually every June to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community and support LGBTQ+ rights. The month also honors the 1969 Stonewall riots, which gives rise to movements to make illegal discriminatory practices and laws against the LGBTQ+ community across the United States.
“Sometimes it feels like we are two steps forward and one step back,” Di Domizio said. “I think if you were to ask me in the 1990s, it would be about whether gay people can be out at work or can be married. We are now past that and now we are really getting to the real grit of the issue that is supporting our youth. They need the most help.”
He added that he thinks people are starting to demonize and discredit LGBTQ youth.
“By discrediting the phrase ‘gay’ in schools and that is really the next frontier, which is making sure people realize that our youth need the most help. They are probably the most critically affected group, and they need the most support,” Di Domizio said. “I think we are taking a step back when people are starting to target schools and children. I think we need to stand firm when people try to roll back those rights.”
LGBTQ+ individuals and their impact to local communities and throughout the nation are also recognized during the month.
“It is great to be a part of this community. I would like to say personally as a queer black man, I have friends who go into towns and think of maybe moving there, and they drive around the town looking for gay pride flags,” said Wesley Rowell, seminarian at Princeton Theological Seminary. “If they do not see any flags they won’t move there, because they know that signifies something. For me, the Pride flag is more than just a symbol that you drag out one time a year. It really is life saving and life affirming.”
Following the Pride flag raising ceremony at Monument Hall, a Pride Community Pride Picnic was held in the evening with an Arts Council of Princeton open air dance party (discotheque).
On June 18, the in-person Princeton Pride Parade returns. The parade is organized the Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice (BRCSJ). BRCSJ first organized Princeton’s first Pride Parade in 2019.
For more information about the Pride Parade or to participate, visit www.rustincenter.org.