Jersey Pride back for its 30th Annual Statewide LGBTQ+ Pride Celebration on June 5, 2022. Jersey Pride is located in Asbury Park, a city with LGBTQ roots dating back to the 1930s. In the 1960s and 1970s, there were several gay bars in downtown Asbury Park. In 1998, music producer Shep Pettibone bought the then-vacant Empress Hotel and opened the gay nightclub Paradise in 1999 that is now well known for its drag shows. Pride founder Laura Pople was inspired to create this celebration in 1992 following the passage of an amended state law against discrimination that included sexual orientation. Asbury Park continues to be a perfect getaway from the city stressors of Philadelphia and NYC, and it’s home to a vibrant LGBTQ community.
There are three main events that make up the celebration: the parade, the rally, and the festival.
The parade will begin at 12 pm. You’ll see dazzling floats, decorated vehicles, heart-pumping marching bands, and exuberant marchers touring the streets of Asbury Park. The parade begins at Asbury Park City Hall heading south on Main Street. You can find a map of the parade route here.
The rally will be held eastern side of Bradley Park, which is adjacent to the Paramount Theatre, and will start when the lead parties of the parade arrive at the grounds, around 1 pm. National headliners and local artists alike will put on a non-stop outdoor concert throughout the entire celebration. Suzanne Westenhoefer will be Jersey Pride’s first ever em-cee. She is a Jersey girl, a comedian, and an out lesbian. She was first openly lesbian comic to ever appear on television on Sally Jesse Raphael’s 1991 episode “Breaking the Lesbian Stereotype – Lesbians Who Don’t Look Like Lesbians” (yes, before Ellen!).
The rally’s headliners will be Janice Robinson and Gia Woods. Janice Robinson, also a Jersey native, rose to fame as the lead singer in the 1990s Italian Eurodance group Livin’ Joy, before embarking on a solo career. The group’s hit single “Dreamer” was written and recorded by Robinson. You may have seen her on The X Factor where she auditioned by performing Dreamer before revealing that she was actually the one who wrote it. Gia Woods burst onto the music scene with her debut single, “Only A Girl,” which is a song she wrote to come out to her parents. She is going to be dropping a huge lesbian anthem this month, and she will be primering it at Pride! Other featured performers include Christine Martucci and the Band of Love, Rich Hennessy, and Josh Zuckerman.
The festival will run from 11 am-6 pm and will be located by the rally stage near the convention center. Tents as far as the eye can see will feature business, organizations, and creators will be selling their products or giving away swag to all who attend. The $15 admission will give you access to the Festival and Rally grounds, food court, family zone, and all entertainment.
The Family Zone, located inside the festival, will feature performers complying with family-friendly sets. Additionally, there will be carnival rides for everyone to enjoy. There will be pet and rescue vendors throughout the festival, so well-behaved pets are welcomed and encouraged.
Want to help out with the festival? Jersey Pride is looking for volunteers! On Saturday June 4, they are looking for volunteers to set-up the festival grounds. This involves decorating, hanging signs, marking off vendor spaces, and lots of other tasks. On Sunday June 5, they are looking for volunteers to be greeters, traffic marshals, lead marchers, and more.
The best part about the celebration is the oceanfront views! The entire celebration is held just steps away from beautiful Jersey shore beaches and Asbury Park’s famous boardwalk. Happy Pride!