Harrison hosts first Be You Pride Party

The Sun
The inclusive event follows by a year an act of vandalism that marred donated Pride banners in Mullica Hill.

As a way to show the township’s support for residents who identify as LGBTQ, the Harrison Township Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Advisory (IDEA) Board will host the first Be You Pride Party at American Legion Post 452 in Mullica Hill on Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m.

The event is open to people of all ages and will feature a jewelry-making station, sand art, a balloon artist, face painting, makeup artistry, henna tattoos, a photo booth, a live band and giveaways. Attendees will also be able to participate in a community art project to paint tiles that will eventually come together to form a rainbow mural.

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At 4 p.m., there will be a family friendly show by drag queen VinChelle, who performed at the Haddon Township Pride festival, and some friends. Events will end at 5 p.m.

“VinChelle’s goal in participating in Pride events around the area is to show families the fun, joyful, inclusive, and welcoming purpose of Pride,” said IDEA Board chairperson Sarah Zuba.

The party will also feature food trucks with soft drinks; adult beverages will be sold inside the Legion post. Local vendors will also sell goods and emphasize to those not only in Mullica Hill – but also South Jersey – that they are open and inclusive.

The Pride event is a partnership between the IDEA Board and Rev. Sharon Patterson of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, which is known for accepting LGBTQ people in its congregation.

“They’re a very welcoming church who have Pride flags up year round and are proud to make queer people part of the congregation,” Zuba noted.

The event follows by a year the vandalizing of the town’s Pride banners. According to Zuba, they were donated by an anonymous resident who wanted to make all people feel safe in the community.

“It’s hard for someone who has not been in a maligned group to understand that feeling,” explained Zuba. “But when you consider that posts on public social-media pages for our town about the banners generate dozens of aggressive, angry posts demeaning those who identify as LGBTQ+ or queer, it’s easier to put yourself in the shoes of those who feel excluded and fearful.”

The Be You Pride Party represents to Zuba the idea that a vandal’s act does not represent what Mullica Hill is.

“This event will be a statement that puts to rest any misconception that Mullica Hill or Harrison Township is represented by the hateful acts and statements of a handful of those who are out of step with the times,” she noted.

“The Pride party is the voice of Mullica Hill, and we cannot wait to share the town’s encouragement to everyone to ‘be you’ on June 23.”

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