New Jersey Spotlight: Peter Frycki

“Just being who we are, in our communities, with our neighbors and our friends, and being honest. That’s how you change minds, that’s how you make a difference. Everything’s local.”

As many know from our mission statement, the Untold Story was started because we saw a lack of representation of queer communities within New Jersey media. However, there was someone who had seen that same shortage, and began their own media movement inspired by New Jersey’s partly hidden but vibrant queer scene. Peter Frycki, publisher and co-founder of Out In Jersey magazine, took it upon himself to acknowledge what he felt was present around but not within his community. “....well they’re the Gay City News, which means New York City. The Philadelphia Gay News is Philadelphia, that’s there job. It’s not the New Jersey Gay News, it’s not the NJLY, or LGNJ, whatever it would be for New York/New Jersey. Somebody said “well maybe there’s something we can do about that’”. Frycki and his partners, seeing the lacking queer publications in the state, took it upon themselves to create Out in Jersey magazine.

Prior to founding Out In Jersey, Frycki was a board member on Trenton’s Gay and Lesbian Civic Association. While living in Trenton and working as an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, a tragic event occurred here in New Jersey. “There was a trans person that was murdered just off the Atlantic City Expressway, in that area there. All of the sudden, the Philidelphia Gay News, LGNY (the precursor to Gay City News in New York City) noticed there was something happening in New Jersey cause someone was murdered.” It was astounding and disturbing to Frycki that, suddenly, surrounding areas were covering New Jersey news. At first, he found it unsettling that he rarely saw New Jersey LGBTQ+ news in popular queer media outlets. However, he came to realize it wasn’t their job to cover New Jersey news. It wasn’t within Philidelphia’s domain to cover regular New Jersey queer news. So, he resolved to find a way to repair the lack of information he saw within his community. “I thought about it overnight, thinking maybe we could, but what could we do? We already had that newsletter that was huge that we turned into a black and white magazine, and some organizations down in South Jersey or up in North Jersey wanted some, but we were like ‘why do you want a Trenton publication up in Morristown or down in Cape May or Toms River or whatever’”. After asking himself these probing questions, he and a group of three other members of the Trenton Gay and Lesbian Civic Association sat down and devised a plan which was to become Out in Jersey Magazine.

As he also runs a New Jersey based publication, Frycki was able to provide invaluable insight on what it means to be LGBTQ+ here in New Jersey. Frycki believes that all LGBTQ+ communities are equal in the sense of goals as a cohort. “We want to be respected, we want to be happy, we want to be free, we want to be able to be who we are and not have labels attached to us everywhere we go.” Although every LGBTQ+ community is in search of such basic rights. That was largely Frycki’s central message: a message of universality, universal experiences, universal goals. "God made us this way, whatever way it might be. Trying to label people or say ‘those people over there’ like there’s something wrong with them, is just not the way I was raised, and it’s not the way I think anyone should be”. Frycki teaches the valuable lesson of universal acceptance, a lesson we should all try to practice in our everyday life.

Reflecting on his queer experience specific to New Jersey, Frycki also pointed out the sectionalism within the state. “But, that being said, I think the difference in New Jersey being LGBT versus being in Oklahoma or being in the UK or something is that New Jersey, like any other regional area, is rather unique in that we’re sandwiched between Philadelphia and New York.” As a result of our central location, our news and community events are largely based in the larger metropolitan areas such as New York City and Philadelphia. That was one of the reasons for his and his partners founding Out in Jersey: creating a statewide environment, one which does not rely on the goodwill of other communities. We are not New York or Philadelphia. We are New Jersey.

A lesson we all must learn, and a lesson that Frycki emphasizes himself, is how to best push for change. How do we best move towards social inclusion? Frycki has an incredibly poignant answer: “The big thing I think that’s changed minds across the world, the country, and here in New Jersey is just those of us like you and me who are out in our communities”. Continue your activism, continue your protests, but also live freely and openly. Don’t close yourself off because of the fear of rejection: the only way to eventually be accepted is to live out and proud.

Like our previous interview with William Placek, Frycki expressed themes of treating the New Jersey LGBTQ+ community as just that, a community. A community who simply wants the same things as everyone else. Being LGBTQ+ does not make you different from anyone else. We all want to be offered the same luxuries of dignity and respect offered to the rest of the world. In the end, he found that the best way he could serve his community was to share what it meant to be a part of that community. If you would like to read the full interview, the transcription is also provided for you! We hope you can take the time to read the interview as Frycki had many beautiful things to say in this time that everything can seem so ugly.

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