Out Montclair will host its first Montclair Pride Festival on June 11 at various venues in downtown Montclair. Established in 2021, Out Montclair is a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization that provides community support and solidarity for the LGBTQIA+ population of Montclair.
“I think Pride festivals are as important now as ever before,” said township councilor Peter Yacobellis, Out Montclair’s founder and board president. “With rampant anti-LGBTQIA+ rhetoric and laws being enacted across America, we have to come together in a region like ours in celebration of who we are and in solidarity with each other and our allies.”
The week leading up to the festival includes “Pride Night at the Museum” at the Montclair Art Museum on June 2; a movie night under the stars featuring “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” at Lackawanna Plaza on June 3; a drag variety show at the Vanguard Theater on June 6; and a group of interfaith clergy and laity presenting “Reading Scripture with Pride” at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation on June 7.
At “Drag Queens & Doughnuts,” June 8 at the Montclair Bread Company, participants will decorate doughnuts with the assistance of the event organizer’s favorite local drag queens, and enjoy a drag show on the patio. And there will be a Pride Stride run and walk on June 9.
The all-day Pride Festival on June 11 will feature singer-songwriter Betty Who at the Wellmont Theater and comedian and Union County native Judy Gold as emcee on the main stage on Bloomfield Avenue between Church and Park streets. Main stage performers will include Tony-winning actress and singer Laura Benanti (a Montclair resident), out pro baseball player and country singer Bryan Ruby, the cast of Broadway’s “Jagged Little Pill,” Dakota Jones (the New York-based rock band led by Tristan Carter-Jones) and more.
“While I’m really excited about the stars … I also can’t wait to see how the nearly 150 sponsors and vendors will activate their spaces to create a fun experience for attendees of all ages,” said Yacobellis.
“The piece of all of this that pulls on my heartstrings the most, though, is the local talent. We did an open call for talent and will feature many of those who came forward through that process, as well as groups from nearly every local performance art institution including Jazz House Kids, the APEX Ensemble orchestra, Drums of Thunder and the Vanguard Theater.”
I live in Montclair, and cannot imagine living in a town without pride and respect for each other. I am encouraged that Out Montclair has launched this first festival, to make it known that my hometown seeks equality and justice for the LGBTQIA+ community.
For information, visit montclairpride.org.
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