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Featured Mini-Grantee | Hudson Pride Center’s LezFest

2024-06-07T19:05:35-04:00June 7th, 2024|

Creating Safe Spaces for Queer Women

The Hudson Pride Center (HPC) was established in the early 1990’s to serve as an advocate and social service provider for both the LGBTQIA+ and HIV/AIDS communities in Hudson County.   It is based in Jersey City, one of the most vibrant and diverse cities in this country and home to the largest Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ+) community in New Jersey. 

Ten years ago, the Hudson Pride Center established a small social program for adult Lesbian and Bisexual women called LezFest that provided a monthly venue to interact, relax and build a sense of community.  

Based on feedback from these gatherings, the Hudson Pride Center became aware that Lezfest attendees faced numerous health concerns that were not being addressed like obesity, sexual assault, Intimate Partner Violence (IPV), stress, and routine screenings for breast cancer and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs).

In 2023, the Hudson Pride Center leadership team decision to enhance Lezfest and incorporate health and wellness programming for Lesbian and Bisexual women in Jersey City, and across Hudson County.

+ Hudson Pride Center

Hudson Pride believes that building a Culture of Health means creating safe spaces for all members of the LGBTQIA+ community to openly participate in affirming health and wellness events.

The Partnership for a HealthierJC advocates for empowering individuals to make informed decisions about health.  Project LezFest aligns with this mission by seeking health equity for an underserved LGBTQIA+ population in Jersey City.  In awarding the mini-grant, HealthierJC acknowledged Hudson Pride efforts to combat long-standing health disparities, negatively impacting Lesbian and Bisexual women.

How was the Mini-Grant Used?

With the HealthierJC mini-grant, Hudson Pride vetted and paid experienced Jersey City LGBTQ+  consultants and local businesses to teach/facilitate LezFest workshops and local events.  Funds were also used to implement social media campaigns which successfully informed and attracted participants across all wards in Jersey City.

The lineup of LezFest programming included cooking, art, boxing and kickboxing classes, instructor-led Solidcore workouts, a Paint & Chat session, open mics for artistic expression, yoga and meditation, and flower and candle making.  A Corgi Queer Women’s Focus Group, Burlesque Brunch Bingo event, Porto Salsa class, and vegan lunch by Subia’s in Lincoln Park were also held.

 These LezFest activities were free to over 200 attendees – many from low-income communities – and helped spark new connections among people of different races, ages, ethnicities, gender identities, and sexual orientations.  Lastly it is important to note that Project LezFest, specifically designed to address Lesbian/Bisexual health disparities, was the first of its kind in Hudson County.

Making a Difference…

“I am so proud of the events we were able to host for queer women and the connections, conversations,
and community we built. This would not have been possible without the partnership of HealthierJC.”
—Elizabeth Schedl, Executive Director, Hudson Pride Center

“Queer adult women face a range of health disparities linked to their ongoing experiences of institutional bi/homophobia and misogyny when seeking health information and resources,” Schedl said. “Project LezFest created initiatives aimed at empowering queer women to make informed decisions about their health.”

Schedl said the program successfully integrated important educational content about healthy living into a preexisting social program for a community that traditionally has lacked consistent services and resources that affirmed the experiences of queer women.

Elena Polin, a Lezfest attendee commented that “…these events are really important to me because since moving to Hudson County, one of my goals has been to find and foster a queer community. These events are genuinely a highlight of my week/month, because I get to do something fun with such a warm, welcoming group of queer people! It means a lot to have the opportunity to form a community, close to home. I always find myself smiling long after the LezFest events are over, and I’m so happy that I found this group!”

Visit Hudson Price Center to learn more about upcoming LezFest events.