Meet Joseph Zapata: Hudson Pride Center Counselor + JC Resident

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Hoboken Girl is thrilled to be collaborating with Hudson Pride Center on featuring unique stories within the local LGBTQ+ community in Hoboken and Jersey City. Every month, with a mission to amplify the voices of the LGBTQ+ community, we will publish articles about individuals who are business owners, involved in the community, and unique people who wish to share about their day-to-day lives. This month we are featuring Joseph Zapata, a Jersey City resident and Client Services Counselor at Hudson Pride Center. Read on to learn more about Joseph, how he identifies, what his career entails, his go-to hang-out spots locally, and more. 

If you or a friend would like to be featured in our LGBTQ+ series with Hudson Pride, fill out this form for consideration. 

Joseph Zapata

HG: Hi Joseph! So happy to have you with us for our first LGBTQ+ feature with Hudson Pride Center x Hoboken Girl. Tell us your full name, and what pronouns you use?

JZ: My name is Joseph Zapata and I go by he/him/él pronouns.

HG: What is your gender identity?

JZ: I identify as cisgender male.

HG: What is your sexual orientation?

JZ: My sexual orientation is Nigel Barker. I only have eyes for him. Just kidding, I’m gay.

HG: Where do you live and work?

JZ: I live and work in Jersey City. I’m a Client Services Counselor at Hudson Pride Center.

HG: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

JZ: I’m 27, Dominicano, born and raised in Hudson County. I’m sweet with an infectious smile and laugh {forever laughing}. I’ve been working at Hudson Pride Center {HPC} for six years. My role as a Client Services Counselor is to link people to free and confidential HIV screening. No matter what their results are, they’ll have me for support.

For individuals who test HIV positive, I link them to HIV medical care and medical case management. There are also social services {rental assistance, mental health counseling, PSE&G assistance, legal assistance, etc}. specifically for people living with HIV that I link my clients to also. For individuals who receive a negative result, I link them to our PrEP program. PrEP is an effective HIV prevention tool. It’s a medication that you take once a day, every day, preferably at the same time which prevents HIV transmission. Think of it as a condom for your immune system! *lol* When I’m not working with clients, I create social media content and manage HPC’s social media platforms.

In my free time, I enjoy bike rides, traveling, wrestling, gymnastics, Pokemon, Mariah Carey, and spending time with my loved ones. If anyone is interested in HPC services, you may reach me at joseph@hudsonpride.org or call 201-963-4779 ext 1122.

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HG: What has been the highlight in your career/life so far?

JZ: Helping people solve and cope with problems in their everyday lives.

HG: What is your coming out story?

JZ: I wasn’t always aware of being gay or having an attraction towards males until the sixth grade. A friend of mine in the seventh grade, Sam, was the first person I came out to because I felt like he would still see me as the same person if I told him. Sam’s response was, “Joe, I don’t care!!” That’s all I needed at the time to start telling all my other friends/classmates after. Knowing I had their support and understanding, everyone else’s opinion {who may have felt differently} didn’t matter to me.

As for my family, they’ve always known and I never had the “hey Fam, I’m gay!” convo. I figured if my sister didn’t have to disclose she’s straight, why should I disclose I’m gay? *lol* Just like she brought her high school boyfriend over, I began bringing my first boyfriend home and it was never questioned, just accepted and evolved from there. I’ve been really lucky with the unconditional love I’ve received from my friends and family.

HG: What is your favorite thing about the Queer community?

JZ: I’m inspired by how resilient we are, our history, and our culture.

HG: What LGBTQ+ related issues do they hope to see change within the next year?

JZ: Black transgender and gender non-conforming people face some of the highest levels of discrimination. I want to see a world where the black trans community is thriving! I want to see an end to the violence against the transgender community, especially trans women of color.

HG: What do you love most about your LGBTQ+ identity?

JZ: I love that my LGBTQ+ identity creates a sense of understanding and compassion.

HG: Who is your role model and why?

JZ: My Dad hands down!!! He’s my favorite human. My Dad has set the example of the person I want to be. Strong, hardworking, loyal, caring, patient…I can go on and on! He’s my safety net. I love how he wouldn’t hesitate to buy the Spice Girls dolls I wanted in Kindergarten. *lol*

Shout out to all LGBTQ+ people who either quietly or in the spotlight, have made a positive impact on the acceptance and rights our community enjoys today.

HG: What advice would you share with someone who is planning to come out?

JZ: The advice I’d share is to do it when it feels right for YOU. You’re the person who decides how and when it’s safe for you to come out. As scary as it can be, living with authenticity will liberate you. When you reach that time, you’ll know, you’ll go for it and won’t look back. There’s a whole community of people like you ready to support you.

Local Fun

Joseph Zapata

HG: What is your favorite local LGBTQ+-owned business?

JZ: My favorite LGBTQ+-owned business is Sloane Square located at 150 Bay St, Jersey City. If you’re looking for stylish pieces of home decor, then you need to check this shop out!

HG: What is your favorite restaurant in Hoboken or Jersey City?

JZ: There are so many great restaurants at both, but my current favorite is El Rinkoncito Peruano. I love their chaufa rice!

HG: What is your favorite outdoor place to spend time in Hudson County?

JZ: I love bike riding on the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway. My go-to parks to relax at are Van Vorst Park and Morris Canal Park {for dog watching lol}.

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HG: Where do you go out with friends in the area?

JZ: Most of my favorite spots {LITM, Talde} have closed. Pint remains a staple for my friends and me to link up for drinks. More Express is another favorite {especially their cute garden backyard}. I can’t leave out happy hour at Würstbar.

HG: What is something you think needs to come to Hoboken or Jersey City? 

JZ: I was the happiest when &pizza opened in Jersey City! I’d love to see more booze-free social spaces, a sports complex with a gymnastics center, and a new shelter for the LGBTQ+ community.

If you or a friend would like to be featured in our LGBTQ+ series with Hudson Pride, fill out this form for consideration. 

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Written by:

Elizabeth Schedl, the Executive Director of Hudson Pride Center, is a community activist devoted to LGBTQ+ rights and equality. Schedl started her career with Hudson Pride in 2013, previously serving as the Center’s Chief Operations Officer and Deputy Director. Schedl is currently the Chairwoman of the Early Identification of Individuals with HIV/AIDS (EIIHA) Committee and an active member of both the Executive and Minority AIDS Initiative Committees in Hudson County. She is a committee member of both the Municipal Alliance to Combat Alcoholism and Drug Abuse in Jersey City and Union City and also serves as a committee member on both the Hudson County Alliance to End Homelessness and the Human Service Advisory Council. Originally from Princeton, Schedl has a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and a Master’s degree in International Relations from Fairleigh Dickinson University. She currently lives in Hudson County, with her wife Francheska and dog Pierre.