Jersey City’s LGBT Pride Festival Co-Chair: Eduardo Baez #dayinthelifejc

This is the seventh profile in a series for the #dayinthelifejc JCI Instagram take over, brought to you by Honey and Moon Photography and the Jersey City Independent.

Meet Eduardo “Eddie” Baez, a social worker, co-chair of Jersey City’s LGBT Pride Festival, co-founder of Gayborhood Jersey City, and a local LGBT & HIV/AIDS activist. Eddie will be posting images of his #dayinthelifejc from August 20 through August 26 during Jersey City Pride Week. Follow him via the JCI Instagram feed (@jcindependent). Enjoy!

Eduardo Baez, better known to his friends as Eddie or Robopapi, is a Lower East Side Nuyorican who moved to Hamilton Park in 2007. Baez works as lead project coordinator at the Northeast Caribbean AIDS Education and Training Center in New York City. He is a social worker with over 25 years in the field. In his spare time Baez runs Gayborhood Jersey City, a Facebook group that he co-founded with his husband Erik Smith in 2009. Gayborhood JC began as an online social group for the Jersey City area Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community and their allies to meet and connect. Over the years they’ve grown from 300 members to over 1,200 members. With the advent of Marriage Equality in 2013 Gayborhood JC went from being an online group to being agents for social change.

In 2014 Gayborhood Jersey City and Humanity Pride Productions took over organizing Jersey City’s LGBT Pride Festival. Baez co-produces Jersey City’s annual Pride Festival with his good friend Michael Billy (who is also a local LGBT activist). Last year approximately 9,000 people attended the event, according to the Jersey City Fire Department, and Baez is looking forward to an even greater turnout this year. There are 14 different events taking place during the 2016 Jersey City Pride Week which kicks off on August 16 and runs through August 26, the JC Pride Festival will be held on Saturday, August 27 on the Newark Avenue Pedestrian Plaza (between Grove Street and Jersey Avenue), the festivities will continue at the official LGBT Pride After Party at Transmission (150 Bay Street). (JCI is a proud media sponsor of Jersey City Pride.)

“I have dedicated my career to the fight against HIV/AIDS, and since moving to Jersey City I have found my voice as an advocate for our LGBT community. Needless to say Jersey City has become my second home and I look forward to my continued reign as self-proclaimed Governor of the Gayborhood for years to come,” says Baez.

First same-sex couples to marry in Jersey City with Mayor Steven Fulop in 2013 (center)

First same-sex couples to marry in Jersey City with Mayor Steven Fulop in 2013 (center)

In your opinion, what is the most amazing thing about Jersey City?

It’s the freshness of the city. I am always finding something new and fun to do.

Can you give us a rundown on your basic #dayinthelifejc?

I work full time in NYC so my day either starts or ends during the week with kickboxing. Now that it is Pride season you’ll find me out and about schmoozing and planning with folks for the event.

What would you like to see happen in Jersey City in the next five years?

I’d like to see out LGBT representation in our city government. I would also like to see our community become more financially supportive and involved with organizations such as Hudson Pride Connections Center. I think it is great to support LGBT organizations across the river and nationally, but we have a need for LGBT services right here in Jersey City and the few organizations that exist are struggling and need our support.

Is there someone from Jersey City you always wanted to meet? If so why?

I’d like to meet Christina Milian so I can see if I can get her to be the headliner for next year’s Jersey City LGBT Pride Festival. All introductions welcome.

What’s your Jersey City “hidden” gem?

Dolma located at 270 Grand Street. Great Turkish food. I love to go there for brunch or dinner.

Where are you favorite places to go or things to do in Jersey City?

Two of my favorite things to do in Jersey City are kickboxing at CKO Jersey City (150 Bay Street) and brunch with friends at Madame Claude’s Bistro (390 4th Street). Madame Claude’s was the first restaurant our friends took us to in Jersey City, and over the years they have always treated us like family.

Do you have a favorite “Jersey City” story or memory?

Erik and I were one of the six couples that were married at midnight by Mayor Fulop in City Hall on the first day it became legal for gay couples to marry in New Jersey. Frustrated with Christie’s opposition to Marriage Equality we planned our wedding in New York. As fate would have it two days before our wedding the news came out that DOMA was repealed in New Jersey and that it would become legal to marry at midnight, hours after our wedding. So after eleven year together we took the plunge. We not only got married once, we did it twice in one day! Our legal marriage took place in New York City, but our ceremonial Jersey City wedding was the icing on top of the cake.

Thank you for sharing your story with us Eddie!

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You can keep up with Eddie Baez on Instagram: @jerseycitypride and @gayborhoodjerseycity, Twitter: @JerseyCityPride and @Gayborhood_JC and on Facebook: JC Pride Festival and Gayborhood JC. For more information on Jersey City Pride visit, jerseycitypride.com. Follow Eddie Baez’s #dayinthelifejc at @jcindependent.

Want to be considered for the #dayinthelifejc JCI Instagram Takeover? Have questions? Contact: Catherine Hecht at checht(at)jerseycityindependent.com or Tracey Luz and Eric Brown at info(at)honeyandmoonphotography.com.

Top photo: Tracey Luz, courtesy Honey and Moon Photography. Middle: JCI file photo.

Additional Coverage

Catherine Hecht

is the owner of Harmony Media, NJ, the publisher of Jersey City Independent and blogs about urban gardening at dig a path. She’s lived in Jersey City since 1999 and resides in the Heights section with her wife Beth Achenbach, they were the first couple to file as legal domestic partners in Jersey City. Cat has over 10 years experience in communications, marketing and publishing, she’s studied anthropology, art history, woman & gender studies, botany, ethnobotany, and herbology and she is a graduate of the Rising Tide Capital Community Business Academy. She is also is a community activist, registered voter, gay rights activist, art lover, gardener, environmentalist, and an animal advocate.