Out Montclair will be holding a rally for the LGBTQ+ community on Friday, June 9, at the Wellmont Arts Plaza, on Bloomfield Avenue adjacent to the Wellmont Theater, beginning at 5:30 p.m. This rally comes after the Human Rights Campaign, a nonprofit that strives to end discrimination against LGBTQ+ people, declared a state of emergency for the first time in its 40 years of existence.
“LGBTQ+ Americans are living in a state of emergency,” Kelley Robinson, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said on the organization’s website. “The multiplying threats facing millions in our community are not just perceived – they are real, tangible and dangerous. LGBTQ+ Americans are living in a state of emergency.”
This year alone, 75 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been signed into law throughout the country, the Human Rights Campaign said.
In response to this attack on the LGBTQ+ community, Out Montclair is encouraging New Jerseyans to rally against hate on Friday.
“Before marriage equality and the reversal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tel,’ I was frustrated and sad,” said Peter Yacobellis, councilor-at-large and executive director of Out Montclair. “But I was never scared for us because progress always felt natural. Now, especially with the reversal of Roe v. Wade and this feverish pace of anti-queer legislation, I’m scared for us.”
At the rally, elected officials, members of the clergy and LGBTQ+ leaders are expected to speak. A few of the names slated to speak at the rally are New Jersey Attorney General Matt Platkin, New Jersey’s Commissioner of Environmental Protection Shawn Latourette, Majority Leader Teresa Ruiz, State Sen. Nia Gill, Assemblywoman Britney Timberlake, Assemblyman John McKeon, Essex County Commissioner Brendan Gill, Mayor Dean Dafis of Maplewood, Mayor Mike Venezia of Bloomfield and Montclair’s Alixon Collazos-Gill, who recently won the Democratic primary for the New Jersey State Assembly.
In 2021, Montclair gained a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign Municipal Equality
Index, and has maintained the score since. In June 2021, the Montclair Township Council enacted a package of pro-LGBTQ+ legislation, including requiring all single-use restrooms to be gender neutral.
Those attending the event are encouraged to bring flags and create signs and wear clothing showing their pride for the LGBTQ+ community.
“Now more than ever, our community needs to see our allies show up,” Yacobellis said. “We are scared and we need to know that our friends have our backs.”
In the event of rain, the event will be moved to the Unitarian Universalist Congregation,67 Church Street.