Archive | LGBT

Breaking the Silence : Celebrating our Voices

breaking-silence-imageJoin Make it Better for Youth on Friday, April 19th as we “Break the Silence” together. All across the country, youth in schools participate in GLSEN’s Day of Silence, which is a student-lead initiative to bring attention to and end bullying, name calling and other egregious acts against LGBTQ youth. This April, to end Day of Silence, we invite everyone – students, parents, community members – to break the silence together and to lift up LGBTQ voices!  Please join us and welcome performers who have crafted a special program as we celebrate together.

Event: Breaking the Silence, Celebrating Our Voices
Featuring performance by the NJ Gay Men’s Chorus, a reading with poet Kailynn Barbour, and more! Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Monmouth County, Lincroft 7pm, $5 suggested donation.

GSA Film Screening: How to Survive a Plague

rfh-gsa-how-to-survive-a-plague-250We are VERY excited to be screening the documentary How To Survive a Plague on Friday, March 15th.
All students, educators, and community members are invited to join us for the film and a pre&post talk with Ron Goldberg, ACT UP member and contributor to the documentary.

The film screening will be on Friday, March 15th at 6pm at Rumson-Fair Haven High School. The event is free, but Make it Better for Youth will be accepting donations for their upcoming programs.   We hope to see you all there!

Documentary Film Screening and Talk
How to Survive a Plague screening with Q&A by activist Ron Goldberg
Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School Auditorium, 74 Ridge Road, Rumson NJ

Two River Pride


A community event that will be open to all, Two River Pride will focus on supporting the voices of youth and will include an “open mic” and a proclamation read by Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna
RED BANK, NJ— On Wednesday, June 20, leading civic, arts, and social organizations will partner to launch a new annual event, Two River Pride, Red Bank’s first annual official Pride event. Two River Pride is co-sponsored by the Borough of Red Bank Council Members Kathy Horgan and Ed Zipprich; the Borough of Red Bank Human Relations Committee Chair David Pascale; Two River Theater Company; and Make It Better for Youth, the Monmouth County Consortium for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Youth.
June has been officially declared the nation’s Pride month by Presidents Clinton and Obama. Each year, thousands of Pride events around the country celebrate the achievements and commemorate the struggles of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender community. A community event that will be open to all, Two River Pride will focus on supporting the voices of youth, who will have opportunities to share their own stories and hear from adult role models.

Two River Pride will be held at Two River Theater, 21 Bridge Ave., on Wednesday, June 20 from 6-9pm. The mayor of Red Bank, the Honorable Pasquale Menna, will read and formally sign a special Pride Proclamation. The event will also feature performances and remarks in the Marion Huber Theater, with JP Nicolaides as MC. These will include an “open mic” for participants to share spoken word, songs, poems, or any expression of their personal stories. There will also be a performance by the Giving Voice Choir directed by Penny Gnesin.

Guest speakers will include community advocates Detective David L. D’Amico, who investigates bias crimes for the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, and Brenda S. “Sue” Fulton, Executive Director and co-founder of Knights Out, an organization of LGBT West Point graduates and their supporters, and a founding member of OutServe, which represents actively serving LGBT military personnel.

In the Two River Theater lobby, personal stories from youth will be filmed and edited for a video that will be shared peer-to-peer as part of anti-bullying efforts in local schools. In addition to the performance elements noted above, Two River Pride will include a reception for all members of the community, with food donated by local restaurants including Dish, Sugarush a Sweet Experience, and Via 45; a screening of the documentary film Stonewall Uprising; and more.

Councilman Ed Zipprich says, “I am proud to be a founding member, together with Councilwoman Kathy Horgan, of the first Pride celebration in Red Bank. Over the years, many members of our community have asked why Red Bank does not sponsor a Pride event. This thought has propelled us to take action, and we are grateful for the rapid response by our elected officials, our Human Relations Advisory Committee, Two River Theater, and the Make It Better for Youth organization to make this event a reality in 2012. Red Bank is an inclusive community and we are celebrating LGBT Pride appropriately—not only with a proclamation declaring June Pride month, but also with a live celebration that will let young LGBT people know that we support their success as contributing members to society.”

Says Kate Okeson, an artist, teacher, and activist who is a co-founder of the Make It Better consortium, “Over the last year, in large part because of statewide Harassment, Bullying, and Intimidation legislation, attention to the rights of our community’s youth are at the center of the conversation, and remain especially close to the hearts and minds of many due to the coverage of the tragedies surrounding LGBTQ-identified youth nationwide. Two River Pride intends to make a place for youth and community voices to join together to discover LGBT history, use their voices to tell their stories, and help make change—and make it better—for future generations.”

“We are very pleased to be partnering with so many local civic leaders to present this event,” says Two River Theater Artistic Director John Dias. “Theater is an essential part of an inclusive and democratic society. Two River Pride will create a space for our community, especially young people, to gather together and share conversation and stories, and stand up for equality. We are excited to be part of this event.”

Two River Pride is open to the public; a $5 contribution is suggested, which will support Make It Better for Youth,

For more information, please contact or visit

Two River Theater Company is supported in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a division within the Department of State and a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, The Hickory Foundation, The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, The Stone Foundation of New Jersey, Monmouth University, Durso Wealth Management Group at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, OceanFirst Foundation, Springpoint Senior Living Foundation, and many other generous foundations, corporations and businesses.

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TWO RIVER THEATER COMPANY is under the leadership of Artistic Director John Dias and Managing Director Michael Hurst. Founded in 1994 by Joan and Dr. Robert M. Rechnitz, Two River Theater is a member of the League of Resident Theaters (LORT), Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the New Jersey Theatre Alliance,  and ArtPride New Jersey, and has been designated a “Major Arts Institution” by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. For more information, visit 

Ryan Cassata Makes it Better!

Ryan Cassata, beloved trans-activist and singer-songwriter has been a popular guest and performer in Central Jersey (and around the country!) at schools and LGBTQ community groups over the last few months. He recently reached out to us at Make it Better to talk about teaming up with a fundraiser and awareness campaign.

If you don’t know Ryan, I personally think you are missing out. He’s a stellar speaker and musician, honest activist, and down-to-earth guy. One with a heart of gold, I might add. When Ryan contacted MIB4Y, he wanted to do something to help get our cause and commitment circulating. He has a new single (just released) and video (being released soon) called Hands of Hate, to which you can now listen. The message is aligned with the work we do at MIB4Y, and he has offered to highlight us in his upcoming performances with special edition of pins for the new single Hands of Hate.

Ryan has decided to donate all proceeds from the sales of the pins to help us out with the events and opportunities we provide for youth in the Monmouth/Ocean county region.

Support Ryan and us with a purchase of the special Make it Better for Youth pin! Visit the tumblr for this partnership!

Here’s a preview of Ryan’s upcoming album The Rhythmn.

2nd Annual Monmouth County GSA Prom

Springtime is Prom-time!  Save the Date: May 4th

Get out your calendars! Friday, May 4th will be the second annual Make it Better 4 Youth GSA Prom. This year, Middletown South will be hosting the event, complete with food, music and fun from 7-10pm.  Tickets are $15 per person, payable at the door.

All students participating will need to register in advance using the student contract and return the form to Mr. Koumoulis at Middletown South. Submit the form through your GSA adviser. Advisers: please submit all forms ASAP as stated above.

Still have questions? Email

Please email to receive updates for your GSA, organization, or individuals who are interested in participating.

Ryan Cassata Sings, Performs at RFH

The RFH Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) is hosting an evening with transgender activist, motivational speaker, and singer-songwriter Ryan Cassata on Friday evening, April 13. Ryan, who is from Long Island, NY, began speaking publicly at the age of 14, and by the age of 18 had successfully cut two records, booked and went on several tours, won the Harvey Milk Memorial Award and appeared on National & International TV several times. Ryan plays guitar, piano, harmonica, and sings.

Ryan Cassata is a strong advocate for the Transgender community and has appeared on The Larry King Live Show (2009) and the Tyra Banks Show (2010) talking about ‘trans’ topics. He travels the US speaking at high schools, colleges and conferences sharing his story with a mission to educate and end ignorance around the transgender community.

Ryan has been invited by the RFH GSA to speak as part of a week of events they are holding at the high school. Co-sponsored by Make it Better for Youth, the Monmouth County Consortium on LGBT Youth, the evening will have informational available from PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) and include a Q&A session after the performance.  The performance is at 7pm, and is open to the public. There is a suggested donation of $5 for the evening, but no one will be turned away due to lack of funds.

Paris and Poetry at Raritan High School

Do you smell French bread and see the Eiffel Tower in the distance?  You must be longing for another Poetry Slam!  With a Parisian theme, this year’s Slam is shaping up to be another relaxing, inspiring night of words and meaning.   The Gay Straight Alliance is sponsoring this popular event for their third year on April 26th at 6:30 in the Raritan High School cafeteria. Tickets are $6 at the door and all are welcome.  Bring a friend!

For more information, contact Ms. Skop, GSA Advisor, at

8th Annual NJ Gay-Straight Alliance Forum This Saturday!


GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, Central New Jersey Chapter, once again teams with HiTOPS, the Princeton-based organization promoting adolescent health and well-being, to present the Eighth Annual NJ GSA Forum on Saturday, February 4th 2012, a conference for Gay-Straight Alliances. Pat Griffin, Director of The GLSEN Sports Project: Changing the Game will be the keynote speaker and will be joined by LGBT and ally student and alumni athletes to enhance safe and respectful sports in schools.

Students, advisors, and all supporters are invited to attend and encouraged to bring ally athletes to join in the event. The Forum will take place on Saturday, February 4, 2012, at Long Branch High School, 404 Indiana Avenue, Long Branch, New Jersey. Registration (fees apply), exhibits, networking and a light breakfast will open at 9:00 am and the formal program takes place from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm. Further information about the Forum can be found by contacting, by calling 609-448-5215, or visiting .

In addition to providing strategies for addressing homophobia and transphobia in school-based athletic and physical education programs, the Forum will offer the ever-popular workshops on coming out, knowing your rights, being an ally, dynamic activities for Gay Straight Alliances to foster respectful school climate and more. This year’s workshops include Time Out for Respect: Making School Sports Teams and Gym Class Great and Scholarship Strategies: Finding and Winning the Money You Need.  Carol Watchler, GLSEN Central Jersey co-chair says that “students can expect to take home a wealth of ideas for strengthening their Gay Straight Alliances and generating respectful environments for everybody regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity or gender expression.”

GLSEN is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for ALL students. GLSEN strives to assure that each member of every school community is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. HiTOPS is a 501(c)3 organization located in Mercer County, New Jersey whose mission is to promote adolescent health and well-being. HiTOPS helps adolescents clarify their values and make responsible decisions regarding their health and actions, and gives parents, teachers and caregivers of adolescents the tools they need to best support and guide the young people they nurture.

Reporters are invited to cover the event, but will be asked to sign an agreement of conduct and ethics regarding the topics, confidentiality, and sensitivity due to children being involved. 

Monmouth County Library to LGBT Teens: It Gets Better

Thursday, October 20th, the Monmouth County Library in Manalapan will be hosting “It Gets Better”, an evening for LGBT teens and their allies. The documentary Bullied will be shown, and Paul Zilber, local activist and speaker will be talking with the attendees.

The event is free, and will also feature local LGBT organizations and supporters. Questions and information can be obtained by contacting Veronica Stevens, Coordinator of Young Adult Programming at the Monmouth County Library Headquarters; 125 Symmes Drive, Manalapan, NJ 07726, 732-451-7253