Office of LGBTQ Affairs
Robert Charkowsky, Coordinator
County of Union Administration Building
Office of LGBTQ Affairs
10 Elizabethtown Plaza
Elizabeth, NJ 07207
Marsha P. Johnson Monument
Click here to learn more about Elizabeth native and LGBTQ+ civil rights activist MARSHA P. JOHNSON.
Join the family of Marsha P. Johnson to honor her legacy and tonight her work with a monument in her hometown.
Queer Empowerment Hour
A virtual hour-long conversation with some of New Jersey’s dedicated LGBTQ+ advocates, community leaders, and allies.
QUEER EMPOWERMENT HOUR will explore LGBTQ+ specific topics and offer stories and discussions involving queer folks from different backgrounds and experiences.
All are welcome! Come with an open mind, leave with a new understanding.
The QUEER EMPOWERMENT HOURS will be held via the Zoom platform and live streamed on the County of Union’s Facebook page.
Check back for updates!
- Monday, April 18: Workplace Inclusion (the benefits of acceptance at work)
- Monday, May 16: Intersectionality (a discussion of privilege and discrimination)
- Monday, June 20: We Say Gay (the impact of anti-LGBTQ+ state laws and patchwork legal protections across the country)
- Youth & Bullying | The effects of bullying on LGBTQ+ youth)
- The “+” in LGBTQ+ | Learn more about different identities
- Mental Health | Mental health professionals discuss LGBTQ+ issues
- The History of PRIDE | How Pride came to be & where we are now)
- Love Makes a Family | Hear from people all of different family structures)
- LGBTQ+ Elders | Get to know the experiences from multiple generations
- Faith & LGBTQ+ | Queer inclusion throughout different houses of worship
- Coming Out | Celebrate coming out & share experiences
- Trans Youth | Learn how to be an ally to transgender & nonbinary youth
- Queer Sex Ed | Healthcare & STI prevention/awareness
Youth OUT Loud
Union County invites you to celebrate National Coming Out Day and participate in the ‘Youth OUT Loud’ poster project organized by the Office of LGBTQ Affairs. YOUTH OUT LOUD – The Unity Project: Empowering LGBTQ Youth and Allies to be Visible
Union County high-school and middle-school youth are invited to help us honor National Coming Out Day and celebrate the strength of our diversity by participating in the YOUTH OUT LOUD – The Unity Project: Empowering LGBTQ Youth and Allies to be Visible organized by the Office of LGBTQ Affairs.
Design a pencil and ink poster that celebrates uniqueness and amplifies a collective affirming voice for inclusion. Complete the form below to upload your poster design.
Please note that the public display of artwork is intentionally anonymous, so we ask that all work submitted to this project does not contain the name of the artist within the artwork when submitted. Please note that accepted submissions will appear on this webpage and will be used in a publication to be provided to local public libraries and public school libraries. By submitting artwork you agree to these terms.
Know Your Rights
Marsha P. Johnson
Community Support / Contribute Today
Marsha P. Johnson
Public Art Opportunity – Call for Submissions
Project Summary – The family of Marsha P. Johnson, the City of Elizabeth, the County of Union, and Garden State Equality are proud to announce plans to honor Marsha P. Johnson with a public monument in her hometown, celebrating both her roots in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and her pivotal role in the vanguard of the modern LGBTQ civil rights movement.
Monuments are an important aspect of a city’s identity—they can honor historic moments or significant individuals, act as city emblems, or add a distinctive sense of place. The Marsha P. Johnson monument will be the first in the state of New Jersey to honor a member of the LGBTQ community and the first trans woman of color to be honored this way. This effort is a resolve by local elected officials and activists to line our streets with statues and monuments that represent all of America.
Profile of commissioning institution – The Marsha P. Johnson monument project is a vision of the family of Elizabeth native and LGBTQ rights activist Marsha P. Johnson. With the support of the City of Elizabeth, Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders, Garden State Equality and generous donors this monument project will become a reality and stand as a symbol of LGBTQ influence in our American history’s fight for civil rights.
Marsha P. Johnson is perhaps best known as one of the main instigators of the 1969 riots at the Stonewall Inn, widely considered to be the event that kicked off the modern LGBTQ rights movement.
Johnson found joy as a successful self-made drag queen in Greenwich Village, infamous for her unique design and costume creation and touring the world with the drag theatre company Hot Peaches. She was a prominent fixture in the community, known as a “drag mother” helping homeless and struggling LGBTQ youth. After the Stonewall riots, Johnson and her friend Sylvia Rivera co-founded the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), which provided services and shelter to homeless LGBTQ people in New York City, Chicago, California, and England throughout the early 1970s.
Johnson was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey in 1945, and lived there until she graduated from Thomas A. Edison High School in 1963. After leaving home for a short stint in the Navy and then for New York, Johnson remained in constant communication with her family. She often returned home to Elizabeth for the holidays, inviting wayward people along the way to join her family for a hot meal, arriving with trinkets for her nieces and nephews and flowers for her mother.
Site Description – The established site for the Marsha P. Johnson monument is specifically lot #8 along the Scott Park Freedom Trail, which is located approximately on the corner of Dickinson St and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, across the street from the Thomas Jefferson Arts Academy. The reserved site is a prominent public location in a walking park near Elizabeth City Hall. The City of Elizabeth guidelines for statue placement in Scott Park along Freedom Trail are as follows:
- The height of the proposed monument shall not exceed 10 feet in height as measured from the finished grade to the top of the monument.
- Design of fence surrounding the monument shall attempt to remain true to the iron fencing surrounding existing monuments along Freedom Trail.
- All perimeter fencing shall not exceed a height of three feet and four inches (3’-4”) as measured from finished grade to the top of the perimeter fence.
- The proposed footprint of the monument, fencing and any other permanent fixtures shall not exceed 12 feet by 12 feet area which is equal to 144 sq. ft. unless written permission is given by the Director of the Department of Public Works and/or their designee.
- The design of the monument shall include a base upon which a designed statue or bust shall be installed.
Design Criteria – Artist shall have previous professional experience in sculpture artistry, and include documentation of previous work for reference in the proposal. The monument shall be constructed of durable material suitable to the outdoor environment, such as granite, bronze, copper, iron, limestone, marble or compatible materials. All materials should be enduring over elements of weather, time and require minimal maintenance. Knowledgeable persons qualified in the field of architecture and preservation/maintenance shall be consulted to determine structural soundness and durability and to assure that the commemorative work meets high professional standards.
Budget – The total budget for the project may range from $100,000 to $200,000 – this includes artist fee, production (including material from concept to creation), and installation of the monument.
Project Timeline – The proposed timeline for this project is as follows:
- October 1 – December 15: design submissions (as a public park, the established location for the monument is accessible to artists for independent site visits as needed)
- December 15 – December 31: committee review and decision
- January 1 – January 31: final design development
- February 1 – May 31: fabrication
- June 1: installation
- June 28 (52nd anniversary of Stonewall Riots): dedication
Proposal Requirements – Digital proposals must be submitted as one PDF file containing complete details of the proposed design concept. Proposals shall include: artist statement of intent, description of project, concept and approach, proposed schedule or timeline for design and fabrication, budget, site plan or analysis, schematic drawings or sketches, models or CAD presentations, material and maintenance proposals.
Submission Deadline and Contact– Artist submission deadline for the Marsha P. Johnson monument concept is December 15, 2020.
Highlights of our Work
(Highlights 2018 – Present)
In 2018, the County of Union became the first county government in the State of New Jersey to establish an office dedicated to supporting the LGBTQ+ community. The Union County Office of LGBTQ Affairs is one of only four government offices of its kind in the country. Here are some highlights of the work we did in our first year:
We brought together more than 40 professionals who provide services and programs for the LGBTQ community at the first LGBTQ Networking Roundtable.
On Tuesday, February 20, the Office of LGBTQ Services organized and hosted a roundtable with over 20 leading LGBTQ advocacy and ally organizations that serve Union County and New Jersey.
More than 40 participants met to discuss LGBTQ-related programs, services, issues and priorities for 2018. The event encouraged conversations about the many unique challenges of the LGBTQ community including: access to healthcare services; state policy recommendations; safe spaces for LGBTQ individuals and allies; access to resources and information; and achieving safety, permanency and well-being for LGBTQ youth and families. Participants also offered strategic thinking toward building culturally-appropriate programs and partnerships that affirm the dignity and human worth of LGBTQ people and supporters.
We engaged LGBTQ and ally youth to celebrate inclusion through art.
On March 15 and 16, the Office of LGBTQ Services offered an LGBTQ affirming poster making workshop at Union County’s Teen Arts event collecting over 60 poster artwork by Union County teens to support their peers in an project designed to ‘give LGBTQ youth and allies a voice.’ The project will conclude with the creation of a book of affirming artwork submitted anonymously by LGBTQ youth and allies, which will be distributed to public libraries and schools throughout Union County.
We hosted a number of workshops and training sessions to increase awareness, building inclusion and accelerate acceptance.
On Tuesday, April 3, Union County hosted Garden State Equality’s ‘Pledge & Protect’ entry-level workshop “Introductions to the HealthCare Needs of the LGBTQ Population” free for organizations and professionals serving older LGBTQ adults. The session was presented in collaboration with the Union County Office of LGBTQ Services and the Division on Aging and Disability Resource Connection.
On April 11, Union County partnered with the Elizabeth Public Library to host Garden State Equality’s Youth Caucus social justice driven advocacy workshop for youth ages 12 to 19.
On Friday, September 28, Union County hosted GLAAD Media Institute’s Engagement 101 Telling Your Story: Messaging and Media Tools for Today’s Activists LGBTQ accelerating acceptance training course free and open to the public. Participants learned how to get a message of inclusion and acceptance across effectively in the mainstream media narrative about the LGBTQ community.
On Friday, October 19, Union County hosted GLAAD Media Institute’s Engagement 202: Telling Your Story through Social Media accelerating acceptance social media training courses free for anyone who wants to build the core skills and techniques that influence positive cultural change through social media.
We increased community LGBTQ inclusion supporting local family programming.
On August 21, Union County partnered with the Friends of the Rahway Public Library and the City of Rahway to Drag Queen Story Hour, a national children’s program that raises awareness of gender diversity, promotes self-acceptance, and builds empathy through an enjoyable literary experience. The inclusive event was covered by CBS 2 News as well as the Home News Tribute and other local reporters.
We supported LGBTQ business owners and managers seeking to partner with corporations to advance diversity initiatives.
On Wednesday, September 12, Union County collaborated with the NJ LGBT Chamber of Commerce on their second annual ‘Out For Business’ Breakfast – a business and networking event designed to connect LGBTQ entrepreneurs with key contacts and decision makers from various businesses and Fortune 500 companies in New Jersey. Guests had the opportunity to meet and discuss strategies that meet the diversity needs of companies such as PSEG and Prudential, as well as educational institutions such as Rutgers, Princeton and University Hospital.
Photos coming soon
We supported Union County’s Colleges first ever LGBTQ+ History Month events.
As the Coordinator of the Office of LGBTQ Services, Danni Newbury played a key role in Union County College’s first LGBTQ+ History Month events including as the Keynote Speaker at the kickoff event at Union County College main campus on October 23.
On November 6, Union County partnered with Union County College to present a special screening of ‘Love Wins’ followed by a discussion with filmmaker Robin Kampf, and co-stars Jan Moore and Emily Sonnessa, whose love story influenced marriage equality in the state of NJ. The screening marks final event of UCC’s 2018 LGBTQ+ History Month celebration – the first in the college’s history.
We became the first county government in the State of New Jersey to proclaim June PRIDE Month during the first ever Union County PRIDE Flag Raising Ceremony.
On June 4, the rainbow flag flew for the first time at the Union County Courthouse in recognition of June as Pride month. Union County’s Flag Raising Ceremony – the first county government entity in New Jersey to host such a ceremony – featured a performance by Elizabeth’s Thomas Jefferson Arts Academy Acapella Chorus, a presentation of a resolution to the MERCK Rainbow Alliance in recognition of their achievement of receiving a 100 Corporate Equality Index rating from the Human Rights Campaign; guest speeches by prominent Union County LGBTQ advocates Danielle King of Hyacinth Aids Foundation, Union County Sheriff Office LGBTQ Liaison Officer Tamiko Brooks, Hannah Lieberman of PFLAG North Jersey, and Maria Z. Carvalho, President of the Elizabeth Board of Education, who presented a resolution on behalf of the Elizabeth BOE proclaiming June as Pride Month, the first time in the school district’s history.
Photos coming soon
Photos coming soon
We hosted the first TEEN PRIDE event to bring together LGBTQ and ally youth from Union County and the surrounding area for a night of dancing and entertainment.
On June 15, in collaboration with the Union County Performing Arts Center, Union County hosted the first TEEN PRIDE event for LGBTQ Youth ages 16 and older. According to Human Rights Campaign, four out of ten LGBTQ youth say they live in a community that doesn’t accept their sexual orientation. With in-kind contributions from throughout the community, the inclusive evening for LGBTQ youth offered an exciting celebration of individuality in a welcoming environment that affirms who they are – regardless of their gender identity, sexual orientation, how they dress, or any other reason. The event included appetizers and light refreshments, DJ, drag queen emcee, the crowning of the rainbow court, selfie photo booth, candy table and more.
We hosted our second annual Union County PRIDE event celebrating family, equality, diversity and community.
On June 16, Union County hosted the second annual Union County PRIDE event. An inclusive celebration of family, equality, diversity and community, the event featured live music, a variety of arts and crafts (featuring the “LOVE Makes a Family” poster making), lawn games inflatable bounce houses, and much more. More than a dozen New Jersey LGBTQ advocacy and ally organizations offered information, support and networking resources throughout the event. Two highlights of the event include a ‘Trash to Fashion Show” with Drag Queen Harmonica Sunbeam presented by the Elizabeth Public Library, and an Equality Rally with special guest speakers and performances.
Photos coming soon
Photos coming soon
Union County became the first county government in the State of New Jersey to proclaim October LGBTQ History Month and hosted an inaugural event highlighting the LGBTQ and Social Just Activism of renown athlete Billy Jean King
On October 23, Union County hosted the inaugural LGBTQ History Month event, featuring a screening of the 2017 Billie Jean King biographical film ‘Battle of the Sexes’ followed by a discussion about women’s rights and equality in the 70’s and today with NJ equality advocates and civil rights panelists Aggie Roncagleo and Benn Meistrich, Esq. from the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights, and LGBTQ Attorney Bill Singer of Singer & Fedun, LLC in Somerset.
This year, we initiated a strategy for fostering inclusion and accelerating acceptance by recognizing specific LGBTQ community awareness and remembrance dates. The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders – either through a Freeholder statement or resolution – publicly recognized several LGBTQ awareness days most notably:
- Proclaimed by resolution June as Pride Month throughout Union County (the first county government in New Jersey to do so);
- Proclaimed by resolution October as LGBTQ History Month (the first county government in New Jersey to do so);
- On National Coming Out Day (October, 11, 2018) the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders proclaimed by resolution October 11, 2018 as National Coming Out Day throughout the County of Union and further declared Union County ‘A Safe Space for LGBTQ Individuals’ during the Freeholder Board mobile meeting in Plainfield. The County observed National Coming Out Day and participated in the one-day campaign that engages communities to take a stand against the discrimination, violence, harassment, and bullying of LGBTQ people by coming out in support of safe spaces for LGBTQ individuals and allies.
In July 2018, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and First Lady Tammy Murphy hosted the first ever PRIDE reception at Drumthwacket, the Governor’s mansion.
During the reception Freeholder Rebecca Williams was honored for her work and contributions to the LGBTQ community. She was joined by LGBTQ office Coordinator Danni Newbury.
Faces of Pride
Office of LGBTQ Services coordinator, Danni Newbury was selected by USA Today to represent New Jersey in their 2018 Faces of Pride feature.