GAYLA! You will shine…

LGBTQAI+ youth and their allies ages 13-19 are invited to join us at the 14th annual GAYLA! prom. Come meet other youth, dance, and celebrate! This year the event will be held on May 19th at the Vogel Concert Hall in Red Bank, NJ from 3:00-6:00pm. Tickets are $20 and include food and drink. No youth are turned away for lack of funds.

Important notes: Sign-up is a must! Advance ticket purchases are via Paypal; tickets at the door are CASH ONLY.

SIGN UP: Follow this link to the sign up form.

TICKETS: Follow this link for tickets

GAYLA! You’re the Star!

After a two year hiatus, GAYLA! is back with a Hollywood theme evening for LGBTQ+ youth and their allies, ages 13-19. Food, music, friends new and old – join us! $20, all welcome. NOTE: Mandatory sign up and permission forms (do both!). We can’t wait to see you!

Pride 2020

Emerging, Surviving, Celebrating

Make it Better 4 Youth Pride 2020

Join us for PRIDE online. Engaging, funny, introspective, and aspirational conversations with the artists, representatives, the politically motivated, and the vocal members of our queer community. Anyone can join, especially relevant for queer teens and their mentors. Zoom links will be posted the day of the event to our facebook event page.

Pride 2020 Facebook Event Page


Friday, June 19, 2020

7:00 PM – 8:30 PM
Come out, Come out, wherever you are!
A live podcast recording of coming out stories

Brendan Creevey 
Tygra Thunder Kat 
Josè Richard Aviles 

Saturday, June 20, 2020

12:00 PM – 1:30 PM
Who do you think you are?
Queer visibility in entertainment

DJ Lina Branford
Pissi Myles
James Vincent
Ahbi Nishman
Ivory McKay
Rachel Weir

3:00 PM – 4:30 PM
Being Queer and running for office

Marti Gould Cummings 
Samantha Parker
Reginald Bledsoe
Jayson C. Scott

7:00 PM – 8:30 PM
Pieces of Us: Sneak peek & talk w/ filmmakers behind the film about LGBTQ+ hate crime survivorship

Cheryl Allison 
Mark Von Der Heide 
Mykel Dicus

Sunday, June 21, 2020

2:00 PM – 3:30 PM
Dragulicious Dance Party
Anita Buffem & guests

Anita Buffem 
Jason B. Schmidt as Bea Arthur, Astral Dame
E the Dragnificent 
Regina Reign

Download Pride 2020 Flyer

View the Pride 2020 Panelists’ Bios

Pride 2020 Panelists

June 19th 7pm
Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are
A live podcast recording of coming out stories

Brendan Creevey (he/him) 

Agender, androsexual. Licensed cosmetologist, working as a hairstylist and makeup artist. Fan of old Hollywood, movies, fashion, music, and everything nerdy.

Tygra Thunder Kat (they/them)

Tygra T. Slarii is a fierce multifaceted talent. Best known as a crowd favorite for her moves at many local drag venues, their impact reaches far past the stage. As a Black/Latinx, Trans Non-binary, Adoptee and Sexual Assault Survivor, they use their life experiences to make the world a more inclusive place.

Josè Richard Aviles (he/him)

Jose Richard Aviles is an Urban Planner and internationally touring Performance Artist native to South Central. Aviles’ work explores the relationship between space, place, and body. Their first piece Callejera explored the connections between being from the hood and a femme. Their latest piece Semilla is a love letter to intergenerational trauma and its healing. Be on the look out for their first published chapbook summer of 2020.

June 20th 12pm
Who do you think you are?
Queer visibility in entertainment

DJ Lina Bradford

Lina Bradford grew up in New York City, across the street from famed Carnegie Hall on the Upper West Side. Her career in entertainment began at an early age as a dancer. She studied modern ballet, tap and jazz for 11 years and performed in several companies throughout New York. Those same moves she learned in rehearsals became a part of her signature style when she began her DJ career by performing throughout the gritty East Village scene. She travels through Europe, appearing in Sardinia, St Tropez and Paris. Accolades soon came rolling in, including DJ of the year and Lifetime Achievement awards at the Glammys and Sage Innovator. DJ Lina is often seen hosting the biggest private parties from NYC to Europe. Even with all her accomplishments, she feels as if she is just beginning to hit her stride. “I’ve never felt more sexy and solidified in my life”, she says. “This is by far the most beautiful spot I’ve been in.”

Pissi Myles

Pissi Myles was born kicking and screaming and hasn’t stopped since. As a comedian, singer, and humorist, Pissi has been noted as one of the most talented queens in the North East by fans, critics, and peers. She’s been featured in Cosmopolitan Magazine, Mic, RuPaul’s What’s the T Podcast, and more! She’s also performed at the return of the legendary Wigstock festival in 2018. Pissi received her BFA in Musical Theatre from Montclair State University in 2011, which was promptly traded in for big hair and sequined gowns.

Always one to make a scene, in 2019 Pissi partnered with the streaming news app Happs to cover Donald Trump’s impeachment. Donning a red mini dress and a patriotic updo, Pissi caused a stir on Capital Hill, leading to stories from The Washington Post, NBC, and The New York Post. Plus thoughtful words of support from actress Missi Pyle, George Takei, and even the queen herself, RuPaul. She has also reported at the democratic debates for Happs, interviewing presidential hopefuls Kamala Harris and Cory Booker.

In 2014, Pissi won Cycle 4 of Mimi Imfurst’s Philly Drag Wars, a thirteen-week competition in the style of RuPaul’s Drag Race. You can see Pissi’s winning performance here. Following her win in Philly Drag Wars, Pissi has continued to produce successful comedy shows with well-known drag queens like Lady Bunny, RuPaul’s Drag Race winner Bob the Drag Queen, London’s Meth, and more. Her hosting and comedic talents have earned her the title of 2014’s Best Drag Hostess in Philadelphia at the Beacon Light Awards.

In 2017, Pissi wrote and starred in Babashook, a parody video in response to the internet outing The Babadook as a gay icon. The video quickly began to go viral after being covered by outlets such as Billboard, Huffington Post, Queerty, and Hello Giggles

Pissi continues to produce her weekly shows in New York City, among her many other guest appearances throughout NYC, Philadelphia, Connecticut, and NJ. You can also listen to her weekly on the podcast My Spooky Gay Family with her sister Sam Baxter.

James Vincent (he/him)

As Director of Education and Artistry for The Makeup Show and The Powder Group, James is fortunate enough to work with makeup lines and makeup artists at all levels of the industry including film and theatre, television and celebrity work, editorial and runway work and training and product development positions for such companies as MAC, Stila, Kevyn Aucoin, Armani, Pat McGrath Labs, Fenty, YSL and MAKE UP FOR EVER.

James now focuses his career on working internationally. His resume includes clients as diverse as designers Ashton Michael, Charlotte Ronson, Marco Marco and Chris Habana. James’ work in the music industry spans genres and includes legendary musicians from Lady Gaga, Florence and the Machine, and Amy Winehouse to Joan Jett and the Foo Fighters. In fashion and film and television James resume includes leading ladies like Liv Tyler, Reese Witherspoon and Rosario Dawson and has also been privileged enough to work with Barack Obama.

Nylon magazine, The New York Times and WWD have named James as a “Makeup Artist to Watch”.

James is currently the Beauty Editor for On Makeup Magazine and Galore Magazine and contributes to countless blogs and publications.

Ahbi Nishman (she/her)

With over a decade in the industry, Ahbi Nishman is able to deliver on concept, aesthetic, and skill with confidence. Her work with hair, make-up, nails and grooming demonstrates her high-quality skill-sets, vision, flexibility, and dedication.

Whether in New York City or elsewhere in the world, Ahbi brings composed and positive energy to all her work; creating and executing high quality hair-style, make-up and grooming for editorial shoots, shows, and private appointments.

She has extensive knowledge of period and contemporary references, maintains up-to-date fashion grammar, is prepared to execute the creative and visionary, and able to manage multiple tasks, organize and lead teams while maintaining excellent set etiquette.

Ahbi regularly does education and production work with The Powder Group and The Makeup Show.

Ivory McKay (he/him)

Ivory is thrilled to be a part of PRIDE 2020-Emerging, Surviving, Celebrating!  Living in NYC and the Land of Musical Theatre for some time now, some of his favorite credits:  Buzz Who in How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Madison Sq. Garden), Mr. Bones in The Scottsboro Boys (Playhouse on Park), Judah in Joseph and the Amazing…(Nat’l Tour), and Producers at Sacramento Music Circus!  2020 – Love Everyone!!!

Rachel Weir (she/her)

Rachel is a 16 year old lesbian on the asexual spectrum and an aspiring theater professional, who loves not only acting, but design and management for the stage. She believes in positive and empowering representation, for LGBTQ+ people, POC, and neurodivergent people (like herself, as she is autistic). 

June 20th 3pm
Being Queer & Running for Office

Marti Gould Cummings (they/them)

Marti Gould Cummings has been a resident of NYC for 13 years. Over the course of the last decade they have built a name as a drag artist, activist, and television producer.  During the 2016 election, Marti founded the Hell’s Kitchen Democrats, overthrowing one of the oldest political institutions in the nation. Their political activism has brought people together who are seeking progressive change in our nation’s politics. They currently sit on Community Board 9, serving the people of Upper Manhattan and are an advisor on the NYC NIghtlife Advisory Board.

Samantha Parker (she/her)

Samantha Parker is the Development & Public Affairs Director of the Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide. In New Jersey, Samantha previously served as the Campaign Director for Congressman Frank Pallone (2013) and Deputy Field Director for the New Jersey State Democratic Committee’s Victory 2012 Campaign. Samantha has also worked for EqualityMaine, Equality North Carolina, The Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the Human Rights Campaign.

She holds a master’s degree in Public Policy and Management and a certificate of Social Justice and Economics from The Muskie School at the University of Southern Maine. 

Reginald Bledsoe (he/him)

Reginald Bledsoe was born and raised in Newark. He attended the Newark Public Schools at Quitman Street Community School and Morton Street Middle School. Reginald graduated from Newark Tech in 2009 and studied at Cheyney University of Pennsylvania before completing his studies in Political Science at Montclair State University (MSU), where he was elected the First African American Male Student Trustee on MSU’s Board of Trustees.

Reginald’s public service career began in 2010 when he was elected the youngest Democratic District Leader in District 5 of the Central Ward. He served on the Newark Board of Education from 2017 to 2020, where he had the pleasure of serving on the following committees: Personnel, Finance, Operations, Legal, and Program & Instruction. Reginald served for two years on the Essex Regional Educational Services Commission Board of Directors.

Reginald is employed by the New Jersey Department of Education and is an advisory board member for New Jersey Child Assault Prevention (NJ CAP), a statewide community-based prevention program. He served as a Legislative Aide to Newark Municipal Council Member Eddie Osborne. He had the pleasure of serving as a Legislative Aide to Former Freeholder President Blonnie R. Watson. He has served in a variety of public and private internships, including with the Newark Municipal Government, High Park Gardens Cooperative Corporation, and with the late United States Senator Frank R. Lautenberg.

Reginald volunteered on the Youth & Activities Committee of High Park Gardens, where he resides in the Central Ward of Newark. He is also a former member of the New Jersey Federation of Housing Cooperatives and the National Association of Housing Cooperatives. He served on the Board of Directors for United Community Corporation, One Voice for LGBTQ Issues, and Newark Gay Pride.

Reginald is the recipient of numerous community awards. In 2015, he was featured in Observer New Jersey’s List of 50 Powerful Young Black Democrats, and in 2016, he was featured as one of New Jersey’s 30 Under 30: Political Up-and-Comers.

Jayson C. Scott (he/him)

Jayson C. Scott became the Ours Institute Founding Executive Director in October 2017, an institution he founded on his own to improve LGBTQ+ Education and Advocacy in Southern New Jersey. Jayson is the Former President of his Gay-Straight Alliance at Burlington County Institute of Technology Westhampton Campus. He was awarded the People Choice Award for his service for LGBTQ+ Advocate & Education in his high school career.

Jayson earned his Diploma in Graphic Design from Ashworth in 2018. He was a past volunteer as a Peer Educator for the Camden Area Health Education Center LGBTQ+ social support program, which centers people of color.

In 2019, Jayson was awarded the Youth Hero Award from the Delaware Valley Legacy Fund for his devoted leadership and advocacy work in Southern New Jersey at the age of 21. Later on, he became Chief Visionary and Cofounder of the Burlington County Pride Day that celebrates Burlington County’s LGBTQ+ residents; which became the first proclamation event that focuses on the LGBTQ+ Community in the county. He also was the Fm. Chairperson for the LGBTQ+ Committee for the Burlington County Pineland Democrats and was nominated to help form an LGBT Committee that forces on people of color in the Southern New Jersey Black Caucus. He is recipient of the NAACP Civil Rights Award and honored as a 2019 Insider NJ OUT 100 The LGBTQ+ Power List.

June 20th 7pm
Pieces of Us
Sneak peak & talk w/ filmmakers behind the film about LGBTQ+ hate crime survivorship

Cheryl Allison (she/her)

Cheryl is an award-winning actress who has performed in Broadway, Regional Theatre and Film/TV for over 25 years. Best known for her starring role in the feature film No Letting Go (2016) opposite Kathy Najimy, Richard Burgi, and Alysia Reiner, her performance garnered her 3 Best Actress Awards. She is the Founder|Producer of WOW FILMS, a production company that strives to create thought provoking stories that deepen our understanding of the human experience. WOW FILMS short film Far From The Tree (2017) has received 26 awards in over 22 film festivals worldwide, including 6 Best Short Film awards. Cheryl recently Directed the short film Hiding in Daylight (2019) selected into 33 film festivals to date including the American Pavilion’s Emerging Filmmakers Showcase at the Cannes Film Festival. Cheryl also Directed the documentary feature Shatter the Silence (2019) selected into 17 film festivals worldwide, and the film made its broadcast premiere on PBS last September.

Mark Von Der Heide (she/her)
Mark has a 30+ year career in Music, Post Production and Project Management including managerial positions at Walt Disney Studios and Netflix. His work on Ralph Bakshi’s animated The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse garnered him an Emmy Nomination for Music Direction (1989). He’s lent his Post skills to Bob’s Burgers, Emmy winner for best Animated Series (2014) and Redux Riding Hood, Oscar nominee for best Animated Short (1997).

The distribution team he managed at Netflix contributed to the documentaries that won the company’s first two Oscars, The White Helmets and Icarus (2017/2018). Under the name Mark VDH, he has written and collaborated on over a dozen Top 10 Billboard dance hits including working with top Billboard artist Jipsta (JP Masterson) who is featured in Pieces of Us.

Mykel Dicus (he/him)

Mykel has been an entertainment professional for over 20 years, with stage performances ranging from Jesus Christ Superstar (with Ted Neely) to Dreamgirls, directed by original Broadway cast creatives. Under his company, Eec! Productions, he’s spearheaded many artistic projects, including Flow & Flair and Broadway to Bombay.

A master at overcoming obstacles, after surviving a hate crime Mykel created a one man show Pieces of Me and toured the country bravely sharing his story of recovery. In addition to his stage work, Mykel has appeared on he Glam Fairy, performed at Radio City Music Hall, made it to the celebrity judging round on America’s Got Talent, and is featured in the documentary, A Flow Affair! With a combined knowledge of entertainment and business, Mykel sees where solutions from either world can drive a product forward and is an asset to any creative endeavor. 

June 21st 2pm
Dragulicious Dance Party
Anita Buffem & guests!

Anita Buffem (she/her)

With a background in performance and a natural intuition for comedy, Anita Buffem (Travis Barr) has traveled the US as the producer, creative director, and star of “The Haus Of Mimosa” an award winning musical comedy duo created in 2007.

“Anita Buffem, Beauty Starlet” has co-produced and co-written for numerous digitally released web-series including “The Anita & Gina Marie Show” and the solo spin-off “The Anita Buffem Show” (featured on GaySVTV headed up by drag legend Sherry Vine) as well as her own YouTube channel, “Buffem Beautiful”. In 2017 Anita appeared alongside “RuPaul’s Drag Race” stars Miz cracker, Monét Exchange, and Bob The Drag Queen as part of REVRY TV’s, “The Drag Roast of Sherry Vine”. Anita has hosted/performed for MAC Cosmetics VIVA Glam Pride Event, Joe’s Pub, 54 Below at Studio 54, Tyra Banks’ “T-Zone” Fundraiser, Fire Island Pines, Central Park Summer Stage, The Asbury Hotel Tea Dance at Asbury Park, The OUT NYC Resort and Hotel, and more.

Jason Bea Schmidt (he/him)

Jason is the world’s premiere Bea Arthur impersonator. He lives “down the shore” in Neptune, NJ with his husband and two dogs. He’s an actor, voice over talent and member of the hilarious drag trio, The Golden Gays NYC! His Golden Girls journey began with Thank You for Being a Friend, The Musical, spurning his one “woman” show Beatrice Arthur: Astral Dame, spurning The Golden Gays NYC. What’s next? Golden Girls: Infinity Wars?! He has worked alongside drag legends Joey Arias, Sherry Vine, Flotilla DeBarge and Lady Bunny in his extensive Off-Broadway, Cabaret and Comedy Club credits. Gloria Swanson, Frank N Furter, a German Transvestite Assassin named Friedrich, you get the idea… 

E the Dragnificent  (she/her)

E! the Dragnificent is a six-year drag veteran, performing drag professionally on stage since she was nine. She has headlined the Austin International Drag Festival (in Austin, Texas), and the 3rd Annual Cleveland (Ohio) Drag Showcase. She is equal parts Divine (with less of the adult raunch), Barbara Streisand (singing live), and Shakespeare (her favorite playwright). She currently attends Pittsburgh’s CAPA High School for the arts where she will be a Sophomore in the Musical Theater department. She proudly participates in the Dreams of Hope queer youth theater program. She, along with her “Auntie” drag queen Morrigana Regina, present the bi-weekly Instagram Live show “Teen Drag Scene.” A passionate young trans female activist, E also presents Instagram Live drag and live music shows every other weekend to support local queer and kids charities.

Regina Reign (she/her)

Hi! My name is Regina Reign and I am a 15 year old drag queen who loves Lolita fashion, anime, and, of course, performing! I have been dancing since I was two years old, and currently compete on my studio’s competitive dance team. I have been so lucky to have been given several opportunities to perform locally, and have a wonderful family and extended drag family who have supported me from the beginning.  I am so excited to perform as a part of this pride event!

View the Pride 2020 Schedule

Gayla! 10th Anniversary

Please join us for the 10th Anniversary GAYLA!

Presented by Make it Better 4 Youth and our hosts Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School
74 Ridge Road, Rumson NJ 07760
Friday June 7th from 7-10pm
Dinner and DJ

Students are to be picked up no later than 10:15 pm.
Students attending MUST do both of the following:

1. Fill out this form  to let us know you are coming. We need this so we can plan our evening. Do this by June 3rd please.
2. And…fill in this permission slip and either submit before or at the dance. (Scan or snap a picture of the form and email or print and fill out.) We can’t impress upon you the importance of this; you MUST have a signed form to enter.

Join us for a fun-filled evening with friends and allies around our region…each year people show up with old friends, and leaving having met new ones!