Dear Pride Network Family
My name is Steven Gordon. I am the Executive Director of The Pride Network. To briefly tell you a little bit about myself, I am a 36 year-old gay man who grew up in a small town in central New Jersey. Growing up, my dream was to move to New York City and make a living helping people. That dream came true. For the last 18 years, I have lived in New York City and made a career of working with non-profits that serve homeless individuals, people living with HIV/AIDS and LGBTQ youth. Interacting with youth regularly, as I have for most of my career, you cannot help but to look back at your own adolescence and see how far society has progressed. I grew up in the age of Matthew Shepard, Columbine, Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and Rodney King. I remember growing up a half African-American half Mexican boy feeling like I had no guidance when it came to my queerness. You hope things are better for generation that follows you.
Fast forward 20 years, I am not sure I can say we have truly progressed. Reported hate crimes have gone up in the last year, especially for transgender women of color. There have been 25 fatal school shootings since Columbine happened in 1999. While we have marriage equality, LGBTQ person's civil rights are being threatened by our current US Justice Department. Persons of color, especially Black men, are victims of police brutality exponentially more than Caucasian-Americans.
What remains the same in our divided country is the resilience and persistence of youth. Every major movement in America, from civil rights to Act-Up to Black Lives Matter to the current gun control debate, has been lead by the power of youth.
The mission of The Pride Network is empower and guide the next generation of LGBTQ leadership. Just because this generation is leading major social justice fights, does not mean they do not need the wisdom of LGBTQ people that came before them. I ask you to think back to your younger selves. How much easier and reassuring it might have been for you to know there was a safe, community of LGBTQ people who were there to provide support and offer direction. This is what The Pride Network strives to do. We cannot do it without your support. Please consider donating; your younger self would want you to.
The Pride Network has announced they will be recognizing six community leaders in New Jersey this coming Saturday for their hard work and contributions to the LGBT community. Congressman Frank Pallone and New Jersey Legislators will join the organization in recognizing the six community activists.
Take a look at the list below:
1. Sue Fulton: A 1980 West Point graduate active in the fight for gay rights in the military has been named chairwoman of the board that reviews programs at the U.S. Military Academy. Brenda Sue Fulton was named chairwoman of the Board of Visitors on Monday at a meeting of the advisory board. Fulton was part of the first West Point class to admit women. She was commissioned in the U.S. Army, served as a platoon leader and company commander in Germany, and was honorably discharged at the rank of Captain. She was a founder of Knights Out, a founding board member of OutServe, and she currently heads SPARTA, an LGBT military organization. Fulton and Penelope Gnesin were the first same-sex couple to exchange vows at West Point’s landmark Cadet Chapel in 2012. In 2011, President Barack Obama appointed Fulton to the West Point Board of Visitors, which made her the first openly gay person to serve there. The board advises the President on matters relating to West Point, and is comprised of nine members of Congress and six presidential appointees.
Click here to purchase tickets supporting Sue Fulton: http://www.thepridenetwork.org/njawards16
2. Rev. Janyce Jackson Jones: A pinnacle of service and advocacy in and for the state of NJ, especially within the LGBTQ Community of color. She is a tireless activist, who has served as the Executive Director of the Newark LGBTQ Community Center for more than 3 years after working passionately within Newark to help found the center, while simultaneously serving as Co-Pastor of Unity Fellowship Church NewArk, a work she co-founded after the merging of two New Jersey affirming ministries within the Unity Fellowship Church Movement in 2012. Whether opening the doors of the center during the week for people seeking refuge, access to better services or simply a place to be themselves, or opening the doors of the church at services on Sunday for those who are searching for deeper connections, Rev. Jackson Jones is a staunch leader in the State of New Jersey, who worked with Garden State Equality for years as Co-Chair of their African-American Caucus to work for full marriage equality. She spoke before several sessions of the legislature as well as rallies and hearings. She’s served as a Vice Chair and Chair of the LGBTQ Advisory Commission for Newark and was awarded 2006 Newark Pride Award and the 2011 Star of Essex County Award by the County Executive. As she prepares to retire after more than 2 decades of service to the City and to the community, we cannot underscore her greatness and her service. She has changed the lives and the landscape of the residents of Newark and New Jersey, and the state and its cities and citizens are forever changed because of her actions, her activism, her advocacy and her aspirations for LGBTQ communities statewide. She is looking forward to retirement this year, and spending more time with her wife, Valerie A. Jones.
Click here to purchase tickets supporting Janyce Jackson Jones: http://www.thepridenetwork.org/njawards16
3. Sal Susino & Dion Daly-Susino: Together since 1983, Sal Susino and Dion Daly-Susino are community activists, event producers, mentors, and out & proud leather men on the Jersey Shore. In 1984, they co-hosted the first AIDS Benefit in Asbury Park at the Odyssey which began a long history of HIV work in NJ, including the co-founding the NJ Chapter of the NAMES Project in 1989. As Producers of the Mr/Ms NJ Leather Contest (now in it’s seventeenth year), and Co-Producers of Asbury Park Bear Weekend, they, along with their titleholders have proven that leather can not only exist, but thrive in the suburbs. As Daddies of the NJ Leather Family, they have coordinated volunteer efforts, educational activities, produced monthly leather socials, bar nights and dozens of benefits raising thousands of dollars for local and national charities. They are especially proud of the role they have played in mentoring a number of outstanding leather men and women. While encouraging the inclusion of the leather/bear community into the greater LGBTQ mosaic, the couple never turns down an opportunity to honor the elders by passing along our oral history.
Click here to purchase tickets supporting Sal and Dion: http://www.thepridenetwork.org/njawards16
4. Wendy J. Berger: "Berger’s involvement with the gay community began through her association with the United Auto Workers in the 1980s. She served on the women’s committee for the Equal Rights Amendment and on the subcommittee for Lesbian Rights. Berger became involved in the National Organization for Women and served as State Lesbian Rights Task Force Chair for New Jersey. After Governor Whitman’s election, Berger served on the transition team for the Division of Community Affairs. In 1993, Berger also began the Family Project that became the body of research and writing encompassing Domestic Partnership Rights, which is now in the form of a bill. Berger was president of NJLGC last year and is currently its Director of Public Policy."
Click here to purchase tickets supporting Wendy J. Berger: http://www.thepridenetwork.org/njawards16
5. Tom Gallagher: Tom Gallagher grew up in the servant’s quarters in Deal where he and his family worked for the family that founded MGM and Random House. He graduated from Holy Spirit grammer school here in Asbury Park and Red Bank Catholic High School. He began his professional career at age 11 as a caddy at the Hollywood Golf Club where the first Mrs. Ronald Reagan gave him the nickname of “Buttercup” which he hated. A few days after graduating from Monmouth College (now Monmouth University) Tom was sworn in as one of the first Peace Corps volunteers. Shortly thereafter he was welcomed to Ethiopia by His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I. A month after chatting with the Emperor, while teaching a seventh grade history class, Tom heard the first shot of the longest war of the 20th century – the Eritrean War for Independence – the first of the 14 wars in which Tom has been involved. One his return from Ethiopia Tom’s first full salaried job was at the White House Commission on the War on Poverty. In April 1965 Tom entered the U.S. Foreign Service and was assigned to Saudi Arabia where he effected the evacuation of the American community during the June War in 1967. He was later assigned to Nigeria and Ecuador where he served as Acting U.S. Consul General. In that latter position he was, at age 34, the youngest chief of a diplomatic mission in US history. On assignment in Washington Tom became the co-organizer of the largest track meet in North America in 1972, the Pan-Africa/US Track Meet which was the only sporting event in history in which a single team represented a continent. In 1975 Tom became the first civil servant in the world to voluntarily and publicly come out of the closet. This act cost him his diplomatic career. He moved to California where he earned a masters degree in social work at the University of Southern California. He taught at the UCLA School of Medicine and ran the psychiatric emergency service in Napa where his clinic was judged to be “the best in the State” by the California Department of Mental Health. Tom ran an AIDS clinic in San Francisco during the 1980s. When his clinic was given an award for the quality of its service by the President of the American Foundation for AIDS Research she told her honorees that they were “the elite and nobility of your generation”. In 1994 when the prohibition against gay employees at the State Department was lifted by President Clinton, Tom returned to the career he loved. His first assignment was to Madrid where, as noted in a speech by Colin Powell, he raised $3 million for the Spanish AIDS Foundation. On assignment to Washington, Tom served as Country Director for the Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo managing the day-to-day response of the U. S. government to the two biggest wars since 1945. In those jobs Tom was able to put an end to two wars. He negotiated an end to hostilities between the two largest tribes in South Sudan. That war broke out again eighteen years later with 100,000 dead and a million refugees so far. Tom also led the State Department’s successful destruction of Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army which killed 200,000 human beings and enslaved 75,000 children. Secretary of State Albright presented Tom with a Certificate of Appreciation for his work following the bombing of the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam. Tom represented the United States of America at a conference of 15 nations in the Hague that raised over one billion dollars to aid 1.5 million people who were starving to death in Sudan. He later worked in the Office of International Health where he was part of the most effective anti-AIDS program ever. Sadly it was destroyed by the Bush administration. Tom also worked for three years as Consul at the American Embassy in Brussels where his proudest act was the refusal of two visas in September, 2001 to the son of a conservative imam who wanted to return to the flight school in Opa Laka FL to continue his studies in mosquito spraying. At the time, the CIA announced its concern about a possible al-Qu’ida plot to spray an American city with poison. That event did not happen. In 2012 Tom’s colleagues in the organization of retired US diplomats presented him with their annual Tragen Award for work he did on the womens movement when, despite tremendous opposition, he forced the assignment of the first female officer to work in the office of the Secretary of State, and assigned several women to diplomatic posts where females were previously considered to be too fragile to serve. In 2014 Monmouth University, where Tom is an Adjunct Professor, named Tom as their Distinguished Alumnus of the Year. In that same year Secretary of State Clinton spent four minutes in the middle of a major policy address praising Tom’s courage in coming out 40 years earlier. She noted that Tom’s action had permanently changed the State Department. Tom recently received a public apology from the Assistant Secretary of State for Security for throwing him out in ’75. As a volunteer Tom was a co-founder of the Gay Switchboard of Washington, DC. For two years he served as Director of the Counseling Program at the Gay Community Services Center of Los Angeles, the largest gay counseling program in the world at the time. He was a member of the Boards of San Francisco’s AIDS Health Project and the Gay Community Services Center of California’s East Bay in Berkeley, and he worked as a volunteer therapist at Operation Concern, San Francisco’s gay counseling program. Tom is now busy singing and dancing his way through old age with the New York City Gay Mens Chorus with whom he has sung on Broadway, at Carnegie Hall and at the largest theater in Ireland. He lives in Tinton Falls and Manhattan with his beloved partner, Amin Dulkumoni.
Click here to purchase tickets Tom Gallager: http://www.thepridenetwork.org/njawards16
The event will be held at the Watermark in Asbury Park this Saturday at 4pm.
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MONDAY, OCTOBER 12th 2015 - NEW YORK, NEW YORK: The Pride Network announces partnership with The Manny Cantor Center in Manhattan. The community center will serve as the host site for the first NYC SPEAK Summit for High School and College students. Community partners include Grand Street Settlement, the Gay, Lesbian, Straight, Education Network, and other local organizations.
A SPEAK Summit is a day-long program where students come to learn leadership skills and practical solutions to facilitate change in their schools. The day is filled with presentations, workshops, panel discussions, and programs facilitated by experienced educators, student leaders, community activists, and motivational speakers. SPEAK Summits aim to teach students the importance of meaningful involvement and leadership in the LGBTQ community.
The date for the summit has been set for November 15th and registration opens Wednesday, October 14th on www.ThePrideNetwork.org
For sponsorship opportunities, please contact SPEAK@ThePrideNetwork.org