Santa Cruz Indymedia :
Santa Cruz Indymedia

Interview :: Gender & Sexuality

Stampin gOut hate in Jersey

LaQuetta Nelson Editor's Note: LaQuetta Nelson is the chair of the board of directors of the Newark Pride Alliance in Newark, New Jersey. She is a former officer of Local 1377 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, a military veteran and a foudner of the New Jersey Stonewall Democrats. Last November she received a national award given to outstanding grass roots activists from the National Lesbian and Gay Task Force.

PA: Can you talk about what the Newark Pride Alliance is and its purpose?

LN: The Newark Pride Alliance was founded last year by myself and James Creel following the murder of Sakia Gunn. We realized in observing everything that took place following Sakia’s murder that there was a need in the African American LGBT community in Newark for some organization that would address the needs of that community. Hence part of the larger problems that resulted in Sakia’s murder is that young people feel as though they have to go to New York to have a place where they can feel accepted and safe. In Newark there is no place for young gay and lesbian folks to gather where they can feel safe, accepted, where they can be nurtured and cared for. Many of them have said that they don’t feel comfortable going to the YM/WCA where a lot of kids go or whatever recreational centers are still open. They don’t feel comfortable going there because the other kids make fun of them, call them names or beat them up. Many adults do not do anything to protect them. They really have nothing and no one that cares about them. James and I decided to call all of the leaders together to work on trying to bring some relief. We’re still in the process of working on building this organization. We want the Newark Pride Alliance to be an organization that is around for a long time. We’re planning to use the Pride Alliance as the organization that will work to bring folks together to create a community center with special emphasis on programs for young folks.

PA: How does the Newark Pride Alliance work to turn the tide against anti-gay violence?

LN: We believe that through education we can reduce the amount of violence against the LGBT community. Many have for so long had this image of gay and lesbian folks placed in their minds by people who are hateful and do not understand what it is to be an LGBT person. Right now our fight is with right-wing extremists who’d like to see all of us just die and disappear. But that’s not going to happen. We’re planning to have a series of activities based on educating the people of Newark so that they can get to see who we really are, that we are already people who they know. We have families here. We belong to families. We’re co-workers. Many people already have a level of respect for us. For many who are in the closet, these people just don’t know that this wonderful person that does this great job and is so kind and a caring happens to be a lesbian or a gay man or a bisexual person or a transgendered person. Some people when they find that out feel as though they can treat you differently; that it’s OK to disrespect you, to say mean and hurtful things and do harmful things.

PA: So their whole attitude toward you can change?

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