Newark PROUD 2020- Pandemic Edition

SHARRONDA WHEELER

Since 2013, Urban&Out has partnered with Newark Pride Inc. to present the annual Newark PROUD Awards. This year, Newark PROUD is a yearlong celebration as we check in with partners and past honorees through profiles and panels on how they are meeting the challenges of the pandemic.

The president of Newark Pride had two months to marshal a tiny board and a dozen partners to bring a jam-packed week of social, political, and cultural events all online. 

8/15/2020

How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted you and your circles?

Like everyone else the world came to a sudden HALT! All of a sudden there was nothing to do and nowhere to go. That was a huge difference  from work, meeting and outings. I actually felt like I needed that break from the day to day hustle. 

 

How long have been involved with Newark Pride?

7 years, 2 years as a volunteer, and 5 years as President.

This is the 15th anniversary of Newark Pride, at a time when the organization and the Newark LGBTQ community is in a stronger place than ever. When did you realize that this year’s celebration would have to be VERY different?

 

When the world closed and there was no answer as to when the world would open back up. The good thing is we have always had great community partnerships. Our partners have great programming from Drag Bingo, book reading for children, virtual cocktail hours.

How did planning change for this year’s virtual Pride and how did the LGBTQ community respond?

 

It was a lot simpler! We had to respond to our current state of affairs (All Black Lives Matter), so planning was really based on what was necessary for us to focus our attention and to the community.  I think the community responded well. 

Favorite Pride moment?

 

Oh wow! I believe it was 2017 we had extended the route of the parade which had started at City Hall the previous year. I was coming down Broad Street headed to the starting location of the parade and I saw all these people and I said to the person with me, 'what's going on ,who are all these people?' and they said they are here for the parade! I was shocked! We had never had that many people walk with us in the Newark Gay Pride Parade.  It was hundreds of people! My second proudest moment is each year more and more institutions in our city hang our flag during pride. 

 

Do you think some virtual events will be here to stay even when Pride is back in person? 

 

I hope so…. It has been a good experience with zoom and virtual events. 

 

Leadership is so important and so difficult right now. What has the pandemic taught you about being a leader?

You have to make difficult decisions about the future and how to sustain. 

Why do they call you Love?

 

LOL, the truth is, I call me Love and ask others to do the same. I call myself love because it's my richest attribute. It's the thing I wanted to give to the world and I think the people of the world need most. 

Check out all of Newark Pride 2020 

Photo: Tamara Fleming Photography

95 Linden Blvd. Ste 22A

Brooklyn, NY 11226

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