JERSEY CITY, N.J. (PIX11) – Some Jersey City employees will make their film debut this weekend at the Garden State Film Festival in Asbury Park.

“Strength Through Visibility” is a film debuting at the Garden State Film Festival this weekend, a documentary telling the story of Jersey City’s LGBTQ+ community. It’s told through the eyes of many, but especially through the film’s director and Jersey City employee, Christopher Englese.

“It takes place over the course of 20 years and depicts not only the changing times and the evolution of what happened locally but also the evolution nationally,” said Englese.

The story began in 2001 when Englese said the local community tried to get a grant to hold a Pride Festival but was turned down by the administration of then-mayor Bret Schundler.

PIX11 reached out to Schundler, who told us that the group had applied for the grant through a program that celebrated all the different ethnicities of Jersey City, and it wasn’t awarded to keep that focus. However, Schundler said his administration was welcoming of everyone, including the LGBTQ+ community.

The community said they eventually got the grant from the next mayor, Glenn Cunningham. Several current city employees are featured in the film, including mayor Steve Fulop, who the film crew said is a strong community supporter.

“The film depicts the sheer tenacity of the local LGBTQ+ community but also proves that a small group of people can implement real and lasting change,” said Englese. 

“The film is incredible,” said co-producer Eddie Baez. “It exceeded our expectations.”

The documentary will make its debut screening this Sunday at Asbury Lanes in Asbury Park as part of the Film Festival.

“It’s one of those where you bring tissues, so you cry, you laugh,” said Baez. “It really captures the history, but it also really is a call to action.”