Social gathering for area LGBTQ youth to include screening of short films and the groundbreaking Philadelphia

RED BANK, N.J.  - The Count Basie Theatre will proudly host the annual Two River Pride gathering on June 10th, 2014 here at the theatre, located at 99 Monmouth Street, Red Bank.

Two River Pride is an annual Pride Month event created for LGBTQ youth and their allies that centers on LGBTQ history and celebration by giving specific voice to area youth. Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna will attend to deliver a proclamation in recognition of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month.

“As Red Bank’s mayor, I always compliment the diversity that our community represents and celebrate its tolerance and inclusion,” Mayor Menna said. “Advancing LGBTQ issues strengthens us as cohesive community, and I am grateful that Count Basie Theatre and Red Bank have come together to celebrate Pride Month because everyone deserves the realization of their full potential and recognition of their dignity.” 

The event represents a partnership between local civic, cultural, and community leaders and groups, including Red Bank Councilman Ed Zipprich, Make it Better 4 Youth - the Monmouth County Consortium for LGBTQ Youth and others.

“During the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s, people were fighting to be recognized as equal citizens,” notes Councilman Zipprich, the first openly gay elected official in Red Bank’s history.

“Today, it is up to the young members of the LGBTQ community to learn from history and urge the movement forward. “

“When most people think of Gay Pride, they think an event designed for adults,” noted David J. Pascale, an event sponsor and former chair to Red Bank’s Human Relations Advisory Committee. “Red Bank has made the decision to stand apart and host Two River Youth Pride, an event designed for high school and college age LGBTQ youth that speaks to their interests and provides a missing link from our past and their future.”

This year, Two River Pride will include screenings of three short films made by young artists that demonstrate a visibility of certain struggles of LGBTQ-identified youth:

-          The Language of Love, written and performed by Kim Ho, depicts a character that falls in love with his male best friend. The clip has been viewed more than half a million times on YouTube alone, in addition to being screened at events nationwide.

-          Dubbed “A Short Film About Coming Out,” Shabbat Dinner from director Michael Morgenstern earned a nomination at the 2012 Hong Kong International Film Festival and won for “Best Short Film” at that year’s Barcelona International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival.

-          Director Sam Berliner’s goal for his animated short Dating Sucks is to provide “a positive voice for the trans, genderqueer, androgynous & gender-fluid folks not yet represented on screen.”  Berliner currently acts as the Director of the Seattle Transgender Film Festival.

Following these screenings, attendees will enjoy refreshments provided by Red Bank eateries Dish, Via45, Teak, Temple and cupcake shop Sugarush. MusicianJosh Zuckerman and DJ Mister Zerowill perform in the Count Basie Theatre courtyard, and attendees will be invited to help create a fabric banner representing a timeline of global, national and local events, on which participants can contribute their own personal histories.

“I’ve been working with teens in high schools for 16 years and have long recognized a need to both demonstrate acceptance to all students and to provide historical context for why acceptance is hard won in our culture,” said event organizer Kathryn Okeson, an art teacher at Rumson-Fair Haven High School. “This event is a way to discuss, share, and spotlight the people that have created change, and how younger generations can make lasting change moving forward.”

Screenings will take place beginning at 5:30 pm, followed by the Two River Pride reception and a public screening of the groundbreaking film Philadelphia, starring Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington. The 1993 film was one of the first Hollywood productions to address HIV/AIDS and homophobia, and earned a “Best Actor” Oscar for costar Hanks, as well as a “Best Original Song” win for native son Bruce Springsteen.

“The Count Basie Theatre is proud to host this event and to welcome our area’s LGBTQ youth,” said theatre CEO Adam Philipson. “Like the city of Red Bank itself, the Basie embraces inclusion by aiming to provide a broad spectrum of programs that reflect and celebrate the diversity of our region.”