LYNDHURST, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – Saturday marks the kickoff of Pride Month, but one New Jersey township got a head start early.
The Town of Lyndhurst unveiled a public display of LGBT support for the first time in its history, reports CBS2’s Tara Jakeway.
Cheers arose from a crowd of proud residents as they watched the pride flag rise at Lyndhurst town hall for the first time in history.
“I am so happy, I never thought this would happen,” said Angelina Jimenez. “This is a dream come true for me and for everyone like me.”
Jimenez, 16, says today her township has helped her feel comfortable in her own skin.
“I am a lesbian, happy and proud,” she said.
Her mother, Theresa Jimenez, had eyes filled with tears of joy.
“It was very emotional, very,” she said. “Everybody deserves to love who they want to love.”
That was Chris Valiante’s objective when he pitched the pride idea to the community board.
“It sends a message that this is a zero tolerance town against bullying or any kind of hatred towards any individual who is different,” he said.
In neighboring Rutherford, they’ll also raise a Pride flag on Saturday, but organizers have some apprehension because of backlash in the borough.
“Someone put up some posters around town trying to sew some seeds of antagonism,” said Christine Beidel of the Rutherford Pride Alliance.
Those posters directed people to an online petition to stop the pride flag ceremony, arguing “Why is one group given preference over another?” and that “this will only foster division.”
On the eve of the ceremony, there were less than 50 signatures.
Valiente says there was backlash in Lyndhurst too, with one man going as far as to say, “The only way that the Pride Flag would fly in Lyndhurst is when hell freezes over.”
But he had a surprise.
“My message back to you sir if you are listening is, you have no idea what we’re capable of,” said Valiente.
Despite the sunshine, man-made snow showered the hundreds of supporters who came out, decked out head to toe in rainbows.
Mayors of different New Jersey cities are announcing pride flag ceremonies of their own. Hoboken will hoist theirs on Monday.