Trenton’s first openly gay mayor wishes to improve city for LGBTQ+ community
The Human Rights Campaign ranked Trenton as the least gay-friendly city in New Jersey less than 10 years ago. Today, the city is led by an openly gay mayor who is working to move the city forward.
“I had an 80-year-old Baptist corner me in a church and said, ‘I don’t care what you do in the bedroom. I just want my roads fixed,’” says Mayor Reed Gusciora. “So, I think that’s the theme of this office.”
A rainbow flag sits behind Gusciora’s desk. But besides that, it is all business. The mayor was an assemblyman for 22 years before winning the mayorship by a razor-thin victory in 2018.
“I like the challenge that mayors actually solve things,” Gusciora says.
Gusciora’s public coming out story began in 2006, when questioned by a reporter while serving his 10th year in the state Assembly.
“It became news that night. But I thought it was time to really just come out and be who I was and make things a lot easier,” he says.
Gusciora’s public battle with then-Gov. Chris Christie in 2012 reignited the headlines, when Gusciora challenged Christie’s veto on the Marriage Equality Act.
“That became somewhat personal when he called me ‘’numbnuts,” Gusciora says.
Gusciora says he regrets nothing about coming out and says that it is an honor to not only be the first openly gay state assemblyman, but also Trenton’s first openly gay mayor.
“It’s heartwarming when you get emails from parents and young gay kids alike. They really feel their life is not a dead-end and they do have self-worth,” Gusciora says.
Gusciora says that his focus is bringing new industry back to Trenton, improving public safety and being a voice for the growing LGBTQ+ community in Trenton.
“I think that people should be, particularly politicians, should be judged on what they can do for the people and how they can move the city forward and that’s what I intend to do,” Gusciora says.
Gusciora helped organize the city’s first Pride Festival in 2019, drawing a crowd of more than 1,000 people. This year’s event was canceled once again because of the pandemic. But Gusciora says that he is looking to see if events can be held this fall.