Mayor Ravi S. Bhalla, the Hudson Pride Center and activists celebrated the start to World Pride Month with a Pride flag raising outside of City Hall. Allen Kratz and Paul Somerville, two longtime leaders in the Hoboken LGBTQ+ community, ceremonially raised the flag on behalf of the City. Mayor Bhalla and the City also presented the new crosswalks at Newark and Washington Streets, which were painted in Pride colors over the weekend for the first time in Hoboken.
“Hoboken is and always will be a welcoming community where all are welcome, no matter your gender, sexual preference, or any means of identification,” said Mayor Bhalla. “We’re proud to kick off World Pride Month with our flag raising and first ever Pride crosswalks in front of City Hall. This is a symbol of not just our ongoing commitment to inclusive policies for all, but also to Hoboken’s LGBTQ+ history and all those who have fought so hard before us. We look forward to our official Pride Week in August.”
“This year, we celebrate Hoboken Pride, not Prejudice,” said Laura Knittel, the City of Hoboken’s LGBTQ+ community liaison. “One way I ask everyone to join in the celebration this year, is through gratitude. Let’s thank our friends, family and alliances, for all they have given us, and how they continue to love and accept us each and every day. We will continue to make an impact for LGBTQ+ communities here and around the world.”
“I am excited and honored to be a part of Hoboken's June Pride Flag Raising. When I grew up, queer community support was not vocalized or expressed,” said Elizabeth Schedl, Hudson Pride Center’s Chief Operations Officer. “While I know we still have a long way to go to create a truly accepting, understanding, and inclusive society, I can appreciate how far we have come. Hoboken's Pride Flag Raising sends a message to all the people in the Hoboken area and beyond. It says that Hoboken is a safe place, an accepting place, and a place that above all values its community and the diversity within it.”
Paul Somerville and Allen Kratz, longtime Hoboken residents, were leaders in the Gay Activists’ Alliance of Hudson County. Allen was President of the New Jersey Lesbian and Gay Coalition in the 1980s when the coalition laid the groundwork for extending the protections of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination to include sexual orientation. Paul and Allen were the first couple in Hoboken to register as domestic partners in 2004, became civil union partners in 2007, and were married in 2013 shortly after the state legalized same-sex marriage.