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Danni Newbury is the coordinator of New Jersey's first county-level Office of LBGTQ Services, established last year as part of the new Division of Outreach and Advocacy in the Department of Human Services.
In this role, the 38-year-old lesbian is directly responsible for outreach, awareness, activism, and advocacy with the goal of impacting current and emerging issues in the lives of the LGBTQ community. Newbury sees her role not only as a provider of much-needed services, but also a facilitator who helps the community build upon the landmark efforts of past heroes.
"As we celebrate the 50thanniversary of Stonewell, we recognize the crucial responsibility for our community and allies to protect the progress made by LGBTQ activists like Marsha P. Johnson," the happily-partnered mother of two daughters says.
Newbury is particularly concerned about the rights of the LGBTQ and other historically marginalized communities amid the Trump administration. The parallels to the past are too visible to her.
"The current White House administration has attacked the LGBTQ community and undermined the rights of countless American, creating a license to discriminate and inciting an environment of fear and uncertainty in communities across the country," she warns. "I fear history is repeating itself in record time."
Despite her worries about the future, Newbury still is able to recognize and appreciate the progress that has been made. She sees her own job as one example.
"In Union County, the Freeholder Board made a determined resolve - a choice to advance progress - when the established the Union County Office of LGBTQ Affairs in 2018, creating the only government office of its kind in New jersey, and becoming one of only four government offices of its kind in the country."
Newbury is making the most of her latest position to identify problems and provide support and services to a wide range of impacted groups.
Even in progressive states like New Jersey, many vulnerable LGBTQ youth are victims of family and community prejudices. They are denied affirming homes and safe spaces at school. Older LGBTQ adults are often left alone with little access to medical services. LGBTQ families often find themselves in need of legal services as a result of hate and prejudice.
As a director at the Union County's Office of LGBTQ Services, Newbury hopes to use the powers of both the community and the government to make sure no one is left behind or neglected.
For Newbury, it's just her way of honoring the past by impacting the present and future. "Progress is not made without intention," she says. "Progress is the result of choices we make as community leaders, citizens, and voters."