Originally from Princeton, Elizabeth Schedl, a Jersey City resident, is the Executive Director of the Hudson Pride Center in Jersey City, a nonprofit that supports the Hudson County LGBTQ+ community through many resources, educational events, and more. Elizabeth is our latest feature in our partnership with the Hudson Pride Center that sims to amplify local LGBTQ voices. Read on to learn more about Elizabeth, her career, her local go-to spots, and more.
Coming from the historic town of Princeton, Elizabeth, known as Liz to friends and family, identifies as Genderqueer and uses she/they pronouns.
Elizabeth has always loved nature, greenery, and the outdoors, but she feels that there is something special about city life, especially Jersey City. This love and appreciation for the city have led her to become a new homeowner in town!
“Some things that make me, me are my love for food, photography, the gym, my family, and my dog Pierre! He is the cutest Weimaraner you will ever meet and we love going hiking together,” Elizabeth told Hoboken Girl.
“I am also a proud dyslexic human,” Elizabeth shares. “Growing up being learning differently wasn’t easy, but it really helped shape me in so many ways, especially in understanding how school districts can fail
children who are learning differently. I think this, along with my queer identity, really pushed me in
the direction of social justice issues and advocacy. I have a strong desire to help, to make a
difference, and to push towards progress and change.”
Hoboken Girl: What has been the highlight in your career/life so far?
Elizabeth Schedl: In my career, Hudson Pride Center of course! Taking on the role as the Executive Director is my biggest career highlight so far. Our Center’s goal is to enhance the lives of queer people by creating a safe physical and virtual home and offering social services and programs that focus on helping those who need us the most.
In my personal life, I would have to say traveling with my wife, Francheska. We love to travel, learn about a new culture or city, explore different foods, mainly go out to eat! But really, just take a journey together, an adventure where we can just connect, recharge, and fall in love over and over again. She is my best friend, my wife, my human. So traveling with her is definitely the highlight of my life so far! Where to go? We love France the most, the south of France for sure, but Paris too (that’s where she proposed to me), and Italy is a close second!
HG: What is your coming out story?
ES: The reality is, it’s all a process. I think from the beginning I knew I was different. That the representation on TV I saw growing up didn’t identify me. Society’s expectations, imposed on me once labeled “girl” on my birth certificate, were things I couldn’t and didn’t want to live up to. And that all felt scary and that all hurt, it hurt to be different, to feel different. But that is the process that most of us go through. However, finally understanding why our differences make us so magnificent, well that’s just gold.
So a coming out story – Well, which one do you want because I have about a thousand – maybe a couple thousand? We all do. Because coming out isn’t just a one-time thing but instead an ongoing process without any timeline. It’s something we do over and over again. We come out to our family, our friends, at work, and in any other situation. We come out when someone doesn't ask us our pronouns and assumes incorrectly how we identify and the burden falls on us to correct and explain, we come out every time someone assumes we have a boyfriend or husband or a wife based on the heteronormative view. As a result, we are constantly coming out so that we can truly be authentically ourselves.
HG: What advice would you share with someone who is planning to come out?
ES: Unfortunately, we live in a world where heterosexuality is still the “norm” and most people you meet will likely assume you’re heterosexual and/or cisgender. Our queerness is an exception to what is deemed the “norm.” So we end up questioning ourselves a lot. My best advice would be to take time for self-reflection and give yourself the freedom and opportunity to define YOU on your own terms! Who are you without all your social, cultural, and family expectations and pressures? Reclaim your own identity.
HG: What is your favorite thing about the Queer community?
ES: I love the sense of community and camaraderie the most. I love the ability to feel connected to
an entire group of people. It’s special. I also love our culture and our history of standing up for
ourselves and each other.
HG: What LGBTQ+-related issues do you hope to see change within the next year?
ES: LGBTQ+ Americans still face discrimination on a daily basis. Some issues I would like to call attention to are hate crimes against LGBTQ+ folks. About 1 out of every 5 hate crimes is due to sexual orientation. Gender-based hate crimes have also increased and the most targeted individuals within our community are transgender and gender non-conforming folks, especially transgender women of color. In 2020 at least 44 transgender or gender non-conforming Americans were murdered, the majority of which were people of color. That makes 2020 the deadliest year since HRC started tracking transgender homicide in 2013. Religious exemption bills including adoption foster care are other issues of great importance.
While LGBTQ+ people are 7 x more likely to adopt or foster, 11 states in America currently have laws allowing agencies to deny us the right to do this simply because of our identity. Today 7 states across the country have bans on transgender athletes from sports. And about 30 states have legislation excluding transgender athletes from participating in high school sports teams. Our state legislatures are advancing bills that target us and that are specifically targeting transgender and non-binary people. They are limiting local protections and allowing religion to be used to discriminate against us. If I or any other LGBTQ+ person was to drive across America today our rights would literally change about a dozen times as we crossed different state lines. There is still a long road and fight ahead for equality.
HG: What do you love most about your LGBTQ+ identity?
ES: I love living in my queerness. I love being me without any stereotypical molds. I love my fluid gender expression. I love not checking the boxes society wanted to give me, but rather checking my own! Most of all I love helping others do the same.
HG: What is your favorite local LGBTQ+-owned business?
ES: There are so many great LGBTQ+-owned businesses in our area! One that we partner with a lot
for workshops and events is In Full Color, organized by Director Summer Dawn. Summer is an Asian, Hispanic, and Queer artist from Jersey City. In Full Color is an award-winning organization that empowers women of color and other BIPOC of marginalized genders through education and the arts! It leads a storytelling revolution called Authentic Representation in theater, visual art, comedy, music, dance, and other media. It empowers BIPOC to be their best selves.
HG: What is your favorite restaurant in Hoboken or Jersey City?
ES: My wife and I love going out to eat! So just 1 favorite place is so hard! But to name a few in Jersey City – Pasta Dal Cuore, Pinwheel Garden Dumpling + Noodle Bar, Latham House, Hard Grove, and Taqueria Downtown (that was our first ever date). In Hoboken, we really like Anthony David’s, Zero Otto Uno, La Casa, and if we’re celebrating and feeling fancy – Amanda’s!
Please check out all of these amazing businesses that are supporting Hudson Pride this month – Little Hoboken, Imperial Court of New York, Chanconia Candles, Andida Tension, dMartGear, Pure Barre Jersey City, Corgi Spirits, Trassom, and Oh Bowls.
I also want to give a special shout-out to some restaurants that have supported Hudson Pride in the past – Cafe Peanut, Oh la la Empanadas, Mezcal Kitchen, JB Bakery, Brightside Tavern, Six26/Ashford, Hudson Hall, and Two Boots.
HG: What is your favorite outdoor place to spend time in Hudson County?
ES: I would have to say Liberty State Park for sure! I also really like taking my dog Pierre to walk at Mill Creek Marsh Trail in Secaucus.
HG: Where do you go out with friends in the area?
ES: I love to go to the local parks and waterfronts in both Jersey City and Hoboken. Hanging out and just relaxing, having a picnic with our friends and dog in the fresh air is simply the best!
HG: What is something you think needs to come to Hoboken or Jersey City?
ES: The advocate in me says an LGBTQ+ youth shelter or group home. LGBTQ+ young people are 120% more likely to experience homelessness than non-LGBTQ+ youth. Jersey City and Hudson County have the largest queer population in the state, however, we have no supportive specific housing for those in need.