Categories: Giveaways

Bayard Rustin Center Increases Programming; Raffle of clothes out of the closet on August 20

QUEER YOUTH BRIGADE: The Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice in its new home on Stockton Street is following up its successful June Pride Parade with a variety of events for late summer and early fall. Launched last month, the Queer Youth Brigade has taken the lead in planning programming for the LGBTQIA safe space and community activist hub. (Photo courtesy of Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice)

By Donald Gilpin

The Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice (BRCSJ), at its new headquarters at 12 Stockton Street, is branching out and moving down multiple different paths in the coming weeks and months.

Described by its lead activist Robt Seda-Schreiber as “a community activist hub, an educational bridge, and a safe space for our LGBTQIA youth, intersectional families, and all of our very diverse communities,” the BRCSJ has continued its programming and hosting activities, sometimes virtually. and sometimes in person, throughout the pandemic, and has announced a full slate of activities for the end of summer and the start of the fall season.

“Out of the Closet: Queer Icons Frank and Chet Present the Big Clothes Giveaway!” will take place from 11 am to 2 pm on Saturday, August 20. Frank Mahood, founder of Princeton’s first gay rights organization, Gay People Princeton, nearly 50 years ago, and his partner Chet Kabara will be in attendance. BRCSJ’s Facebook site describes the event as “a unique opportunity to own a piece of fabulous LGBTQIA history as our favorite couple shares new and barely worn clothing from their various appearances and adventures at events in Pride over the years.”

The BRCSJ promises that there will be everything “from rainbow trousers to sequined blazers and also for the more fashion-shy there will be bins full of jumpers, trousers, hats, footwear and all manner of other stylish pieces to add to your wardrobe.” All items are free, although the organization asks customers to consider a donation to support the BRCSJ.

“It’s a taste of the fabulous, but it’s also a taste of the everyday,” Seda-Schreiber said. “People can come and get the clothes they need or want, and it’s also an opportunity to hear from Frank and Chet — the history, their stories and for them to be recognized, to celebrate them for all that they’ve done.”

On August 27, the Center will host artist, photographer and BRCSJ board member emeritus Walter Naegle, Bayard Rustin’s surviving partner, and commemorate the anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington that Rustin organized and led.

Rustin, who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama in 2013, “didn’t get the recognition he deserved in life for who he was and who he loved and the life he lived,” Seda-Schreiber said. He went on to note that Naegle’s visit is “a wonderful time for our community to understand history, especially now that more and more history is being erased, more and more books are being banned, more and more people try to prevent stories from being he said.”

In addition to partnering with several organizations to lead a Day of Action and Demonstration to Protect Our Democracy on the afternoon of September 17th at Hinds Plaza, the BRCSJ will host two high-profile events in September.

On September 18, marking the start of Banned Books Week, North Hunterdon librarian Martha Hickson, who recently received the Lemony Snicket Award for Noble Librarians in the Face of Adversity, will visit the BRCSJ to talk about “ How to stop the banning of books in libraries, schools, and the Greater Community”.

Seda-Schreiber noted that Hickson will present a “dedicated program of action for librarians, teachers, students, activists and other community members to fight to ensure that books are not banned in their community.”

Next, on Saturday, September 24, the BRCSJ will host a benefit concert featuring Jill Sobule, singer-songwriter of “I Kissed a Girl,” “Supermodel” and many more socially conscious hits of the past 32 years.

October’s lineup will include visits from acclaimed New York writer Adam Gopnik and graphic artist, journalist, and The Nation magazine illustrator Steve Brodner.

Seda-Schreiber emphasized that most events at the BRCSJ are free and most are open to the general public, with some events being benefits where donations will be requested but not required. “The Center is first and foremost a community center,” he said. “Anyone in the community who wants to attend any of our events is always welcome.”

The BRCSJ opened its doors at its Stockton Street headquarters in March this year, after losing its original home on Wiggins Street at the start of the pandemic and continuing virtually for two years.

Expressing gratitude to the Princeton Alumni Corps, which is located on the second floor of the building, as great partners and owners, Seda-Schreiber praised all the “amazing volunteers who have come and in a short time have helped us make the space is as extraordinary as it deserves to be”.

Momentum at the BRCSJ continued to build throughout the spring as it returned to face-to-face meetings and prepared for Pride Month and a Pride Parade on June 18 that brought more than 3,000 people on the streets of Princeton to celebrate.

The BRCSJ has expanded its social justice library, which now contains over 1,000 books. The library’s featured titles include works by authors who were featured in the Center’s Social Justice Power Hour, live broadcasts that took place every weeknight during the first two years of the pandemic, over 600 episodes in total, all available on the BRCSJ Facebook Archive for interested viewers.

The BRCSJ has continued its relationships with writers, artists, activists and celebrities who appeared on Hour of Power, Seda-Schreiber said, and recently established birth justice programs to serve and empower women during pregnancy , childbirth and the postpartum process. ; free and confidential HIV testing; and a popular Queer Youth Brigade.

Seda-Schreiber, citing the spread of the monkeypox virus as a major concern both nationally and locally and “right now very impactful for our LGBTQIA community, especially,” noted that the BRCSJ has been in communication with the governor’s office and the New Jersey Department of Health.

“We are trying to work with Penn Medicine Princeton Medical Center to become a dedicated community vaccination site,” he added. “We want to be able to offer medical assistance and psychological-emotional support so that our community feels safe and comfortable. We are working hard to make this happen.”

Launched about a month ago, the Queer Youth Brigade includes “youth across the spectrum, representing intersectionality in every way you can imagine, across the rainbow,” Seda-Schreiber said, “And they meet at least once a week.”

He continued, “They also create programming. It’s always better for the community to talk directly to us and tell us what they want, what they need, what will serve them best. They create the programming that they want to be a part of, that would be more impactful, more meaningful and more enjoyable for them.”

BRCSJ Queer Youth Brigade Rose Mascoll said: “The BRCSJ Queer Youth Brigade is a wonderful thing both for me personally as a trans woman navigating my personal journey, but also to tell all our LGBTQIA youth who are looking for a safe space to share their stories and move forward together. I invite everyone to join us.”

Seda-Schreiber added, “It’s important for people in the community to know that the Center is a place where they’re finally part of a bigger community, part of a bigger idea, part of a bigger network where can feel recognized, respected, heard, and loved.”


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