Home Princeton Packet Princeton Pride Parade message: ‘Love is Love’

Princeton Pride Parade message: ‘Love is Love’

Princeton Pride Parade message: ‘Love is Love’
People participating in the Pride parade walk on Witherspoon Street.

The return of Princeton’s Pride Parade after a two-year in-person hiatus brought chants of “love is love.”

Marching in solidarity dressed in Pride flag colors, waving Pride flags and with colored flags draped around them, people of all ages walked in the Pride parade from the Princeton Municipal Complex on Witherspoon Street to the Princeton YMCA at Paul Robeson Place on June 18.

While marching, people in the parade included local and state legislative officials and local organizations such as HiTOPS, which is a nonprofit that supports LGBTQ+ youth.

The parade ended at the Princeton YMCA.

“It was beautiful to see everybody and I think sometimes I do not realize how much pride and support there is in Princeton until we get to an event like this,” Harmonie Ramsden said.

“This is Princeton’s second Pride Parade ever so I think us coming back after a really successful first one and coming back three years later for a second one shows everyone in Princeton that we are here, we are queer and we are staying here.”

Helping to lead the parade as grand marshal was Alan Muraoka, actor on Sesame Street, who plays the owner of Hooper’s Store.

The Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice (BRCSJ), which organized Princeton’s first Pride parade in 2019, held a virtual pride parade during the pandemic. The first parade took six weeks to organize and had 3,000 people attend, according to organizers.

“It is not only our youth, but our seniors and elders. People are coming out in older and younger ages,” said Robt Seda-Schreiber, chief activist of the BRCSJ. “We want people to be comfortable to say this is who we are, this is how we represent, and this is how we can gather together and keep each other safe.”

For the 2022 parade and after party, there has been three years of work involved, according to Seda-Schreiber.

“This is the epitome of community and what we need now and always. We are honestly entering this dark phase where a lot of folks think it is ok not to be accepting, be intolerant and hateful,” Seda-Schreiber said. “The BRCSJ is about bringing together a beautiful and diverse community. At the Pride parade and after-party people are gathered together in unity, equity, celebration, solidarity, respect and love.”

A dance celebration after-party was held at the Princeton YMCA athletic field space on Paul Robeson Place.

Eavan Dailey, a Princeton area resident, was dancing for her mom and aunt, who had passed away.  She said the parade was needed “now more than ever.”

“Because equal rights for women is in jeopardy and there are a lot of hate crimes going on,” she said.

Dailey said her hope is people takeaway the idea of love from the parade and after party.

“Love baby, love. Open hearts, love, open mindedness, comfort, serenity, prayers, we just need energy that is really loving. It does not matter if you are transgender, straight, gay, who cares,” she said. “We need joy in our hearts, because our hearts feel like they are closing right now. You should love who you can and love who you want.”

The parade consisted of Parade Queen “Miss Stonewall Inn” Cissy Walken, flag-bearers and 10-foot-tall Pride puppets of movement activist heroes, which celebrated and honored LGBTQIA history.

“I absolutely love being here. I came when it was organized in 2019 and it was wonderful. It felt so much like a community, a community I had never felt before,” said Jani Splendorio, a Princeton area resident.

“We had a virtual Pride parade last year, which was still fun, but nobody was together. To see everyone here it makes you feel like you are part of a bigger movement, community and family,” she said.

Splendorio further said she wishes people would be more open in life and get to know other people.

“You do not always have to believe in what other people believe in to know their customs, their beliefs, their religions. Because we are so much the same and people are not all that different,” she said.

Also part of the parade, BRCSJ Board Member Glen Pannell as Vice President Mike Hot-Pence, Maplewood Mayor Dean Dafis, Senator Andrew Zwicker (D-16), Princeton Mayor Mark Freda, Dirty Jersey Roller Derby, horses, local resource centers and the Philadelphia Freedom Band.

“All of us are allies and coming together like this shows what makes freedom happen. It is critical right now especially as across the country a lot of our community is under attack under legislation,” Dafis said. “They are trying to erase us and the identities of our trans youth and our black queer youth in particular are under attack.”

Dafis, who is Maplewood Township’s first openly gay mayor, noted that the country has taken a couple steps forward.

“But with every step forward, we have taken many steps back,” he said. “We are concerned about our rights being rolled back, no question about it and that is why we have to stay vigilant and not remain comfortable, even here in New Jersey. This is a really critical time for us. I want people to grab hold from this event that love wins. Love is courage to do the right thing.”