Asbury Park Gay Pride: A celebration, commercialism, politics and remembrance

Sunday in the park: In spite of cold weather, high winds, and threat of rain people turned out in large numbers to celebrate with pride in Asbury Park. Jim Keady who is running a progressive, grassroots campaign for Congress in CD 4 had a booth. An astonishing number of large companies which would not have attended such an event ten years ago were present showing support and promoting their services.

For me the most important part was remembrance of people we lost in the AIDS crisis, including a partner of mine. The AIDS quilts displayed in the park bring back a lot of memories. (See above and below) 

During the dark devastating Reagan years of the 1980’s the government did its best to ignore the AIDS epidemic. Like today’s resistance, there was ACT UP first in New York and later in New Jersey. I recall being detained by police twice in NYC. First was as an ACT Up member in NYC where we were protesting a prestigious hospital that did not want to serve people with AIDS. After taking us into a bus the police after about an hour released us because the hospital, probably out of embarrassment and not wanting bad publicity, chose not to press charges. The second time was in front of the Federal Court House in lower Manhattan where we were warned we would be arrested if we trespassed on its steps. That did not stop us. We were taken to a school gym where after about four hours of officers examining our ID’s we were released with a summons to appear in court on a misdealer charge. 

At that time “SILENCE=DEATH” was ACT UP’s motto.  Equally important is to recall the long struggle to gain equality garnered through resistance, most dramatically at Stonewall in 1969. Rosi writes movingly about this history here.

Today we have new reasons for resistance which is bravely displayed by activists against Republican congressmen and in support of such causes as Black Lives Matter, immigration rights, #Me Too, gun legislation and more.



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