Montclair, NJ – Montclair is still glowing after Saturday’s euphoric inaugural Montclair Pride Festival. There were huge crowds of happy people decked in rainbow garb. There were neighbors and old friends, as well as new friends — visitors from all over New Jersey and New York who came to party, filling up downtown Montclair with an electric, joyful energy. It was Montclair at its best.
Just like the diverse group of people who came to embrace Pride and to celebrate love, community and equality, Montclair Pride offered so many different experiences. There were two stages, one showcasing local talent from School of Rock Montclair, Jazz House Kids and Apex Ensemble; the other bringing out some big names including Peppermint and the cast of Broadway’s Jagged Little Pill, as well as Vanguard Theater’s cast of Rent. There were drag queen story hours for kids, a beer garden for the grownups, art making with Montclair Art Museum and a giant rainbow swing activation from Audi. There were impassioned and important speeches about equality for the LGBTQ community and how pride events are especially important for affirming LGBTQIA+ youth.
Montclair’s first every Pride Festival was magical and the magician who managed to pull it all off in an incredibly short time is Out Montclair President and President and Montclair Councilor at Large Peter Yacobellis. Hard to believe, but there was no organization dedicated to the LGBTQIA+ population of Montclair until Out Montclair came along in 2021. The Out Montclair team, which includes Marie Cottrell, Andy Kahnke, Peter Holm, Claire-Voe Ocampo, Ondria Laboy, Barbara Simon, Matt Sandowski, Sharee Harrison, Ed Frischkorn, Maria Hubbard, Alexa Caruso, Madeline Gale, Reubena Spence and Cathy Renna, pulled off an amazing lineup of pride events, with the help of Montclair Center BID, and are already looking forward to Montclair Pride 2023!
The theme of the 2022 Montclair Pride Festival was “Be You. Be Heard.” The day was all about joyous celebration of LGBTQIA+ people and allies, community and acceptance.
Montclair Councilor at Large and Out Montclair President Peter Yacobellis, in a post on social media after the event, said:
There is an invisible but palpable connective tissue that I know you all know is there. We have different ways of talking about it in the context of the values we hold and kinds of connections we have to this place. But it’s magnetic and keeps us or attracts us here.
It is community.
Community is a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals. But it’s also, and I think more importantly, about all of us wanting the best for each person and entity. It’s the having each other’s backs, big family, village kind of mentality — that when we work together and lift each other up, we are at our absolute best: 1+1 = 100.
Yesterday was my favorite Montclair day since the first time I stepped foot in the town over 15 years ago.
It’s been a long time since I’ve had my community and my hometown be the same thing. Growing up it got lost when our big Queens-based, Italian family started to break up and move away from the neighborhood we all lived in. Then as a gay man, it was even harder to find community and I usually only could find it in a significant way by going somewhere else like Manhattan.
Yesterday, my hometown and my community became one in the same in a way that I haven’t experienced in a really long time.
Thank you for that gift and protecting our town’s spirit of inclusivity.
But community is also more than who we relate to and the values we hold. It’s also about our relationship with place and commerce and art and entertainment. To that end, I’m just blown away by how Montclair showed up for Montclair Pride.
The festival was one of the best I’ve ever been to anywhere. Period. Every single business or organization did something special, fun, beautiful, creative, engaging or all of the above. What an outpouring of the best of what we have to offer, it was.
The talent on our stages was remarkable and the majority of it was local — reassuring me that Montclair’s artistic DNA is as healthy as it’s ever been. We just have be sure to nurture it and keep or create the space for it and fiercely protect it.
When I ask people what they love about Montclair I usually hear: It’s diversity; that we’re a hub for art and creativity and those institutions; it’s character and it’s small businesses.
Pride week, culminating in yesterday, was all of those things coming together in a stunning showcase of the best this town has to offer. There’s just no other way to describe it.
I hope you’ll support our small businesses and arts institutions and community organizations always, because they are what make Montclair a truly special place and need our support to keep it so.
Thank you to every single person in every context who was part of this really special time. It was something really remarkable and breathtaking.
Who knew Montclair Pride would leave me with so much pride in Montclair. I am floored.
What was your favorite moment? Watch the livestream of the 2022 Montclair Pride Festival:
Baristanet is a very proud sponsor of the Montclair Pride Festival.