27th annual LGBTQ Pride celebration held in Asbury Park

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ASBURY PARK -

Crowds gathered Sunday in Asbury Park for the 27th year of celebrating LGBTQ pride.

The theme of the parade was "think, vote, rise," and it sought to emphasize the importance of LGBTQ voters being involved in the political process.

The parade kicked off at noon, and Gov. Phil Murphy was among the marchers. He became the first governor in 10 years to address the festival.

Murphy has said previously he wants the state to be a "beacon of inclusion and a model of diversity."

LGBTQ Pride Month is celebrated every June. The first Jersey Pride event was held in 1992.

"This is a time in our culture and society where people want to be coming out, they want to make a statement and a pride event is the opportunity to do that," says Laura Pople, president of Jersey Pride.

Parents, siblings and other family members of the LGBTQ community also attended the parade and festival to show support.

"I wanted to be here in support of my daughter," said Vanessa Palma, Middletown. "I have a 17-year-old and she has a girlfriend and she just told everybody about the way she felt this year."

Organizers of the event said that even though progress has been made over the years, the LGBTQ community needs to be vigilant to make sure progress is not reversed.

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