West Orange celebrates Pride with flag-raising

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WEST ORANGE, NJ — Residents and officials celebrated Pride Month by raising a rainbow flag in front of Town Hall on June 3, celebrating LGBTQ members of the community at the beginning of the national celebration month. Mayor Robert Parisi and state Sen. Richard Codey, who represents District 27, spoke at the event before students from the West Orange High School Gay-Straight Alliance raised the flag. District 27 includes West Orange, among other municipalities in Essex and Morris counties.

Codey, a former New Jersey governor, recalled a bill being introduced in the state Senate 12 years ago regarding same-sex marriage, and his support for it then.

“It didn’t pass that day,” he said. “And then you look back and realize that, at one point, women couldn’t vote. Sometimes it takes time.”

Same-sex marriage was legalized in New Jersey in 2013, and in all 50 states in 2015.

“We’ve come a long way,” Codey said at the gathering.

West Orange resident Roger Appollon also spoke at the event about his son, Jax, who came out as transgender about four years ago.

“I’m really proud to be a part of the community here,” Appollon said.

“When Jax came out, all of my family, friends and most importantly the school district was on board,” he said, adding that WOHS Principal Hayden Moore, “sat down with us at the high school and said that Jax could use whatever bathrooms he felt comfortable with and everyone at the school was helpful. To live in this town with the support is amazing.”

Parisi agreed in his comments at the event.

“We’re not perfect,” he said. “But I believe that we’re a model community in acceptance.”

Photos by Amanda Valentovic