Jersey Pride's 30th Annual LGBTQ+ Pride Celebration will be rescheduled from October 10th, 2021 to June 5, 2022.
This matter was not decided lightly. As the summer wound to a close, Jersey Pride was forced to confront the reality of a fall surge of the virus - courtesy of both the delta variant and a non-trivial percentage of the population eschewing vaccinations. We are now beginning to get some pushback and cancellations of those who might otherwise have participated in our event this October. Authoritative consultants raised the spectre that we would be creating a super-spreader event. Other prides - like Atlanta Pride - that had rescheduled their 2021 events to the fall have already cancelled.
According to Jersey Pride President Laura Pople "We have not been planning in a vacuum. It was already clear that we were not going to be able to host the blow-out 30th year event that an anniversary year warranted, and that we should target a modest one this fall. We had also made a determination that we would follow the lead of outdoor event organizers like Live Nation and mandate vaccinations or negative COVID tests for any attendees. Even with these precautions, however, it was clear that a critical mass of participants was withdrawing from (or at least questioning) participation in Pride."
"We reached the conclusion that we needed to look critically at whether we could safely hold the event this year. We explored the viability, and safety, of several different scenarios before concluding that we needed to cancel, and refocus our energy on producing NJ's 30th LGBTQ+ Pride Celebration in June, 2022", adds Pople. "The decision is heartbreaking. We have heard from many in the community about how excited they are for the October event, and how much they are looking forward to it. Sadly, many who say that also opine that they may not be able to attend because of concerns about the virus."
The world has changed since we first decided to move forward with the October event. In June, the Governor lifted the state of emergency. Vaccines were widely available and as the vaccination rate rose, so too did confidence that we could resume our pre-COVID lives. Planning our event to coincide with NCOD made sense. But the perniciousness of the delta variant has changed people's calculations about what is safe, and what activities are essential. As we have seen with COVID - over and over - it can be impossible to predict with 100% confidence what the optimal path is. The best we can do is be responsive to the feedback we are hearing from the community, our volunteers, and our participants and make the decision that is right in the moment, We have a responsibility to the community to provide a safe event, and be leaders within our community.
We felt we had to consider whether we can responsibly produce the event without putting people at risk and with the trajectory COVID and the delta variant are on at this time, we are not confident that we can. It now seems ill-advised to continue planning to hold as large a gathering as our event could be - even one outdoors with as many COVID safeguards in place as we possibly could.
We know people are disappointed, frustrated, and mad. We are too. We look forward to the time when we can again host the largest NJ gathering of LGBTQ people celebrating pride in themselves and their community. See you in June, 2022.