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05/22/2024 08:30 AM

Perdue Helps Bring in Branford’s first-ever Pride Events June 8

Branford’s first-ever Pride events on Saturday, June 8, will be a memorable day for many, including co-organizer Rev. Joe Perdue of Branford’s First Congregational Church. Photo Courtesy Branford First Congregational Church

Branford’s first-ever Pride events on Saturday, June 8, will be a memorable day for many, including events co-organizer Rev. Joe Perdue, senior minister of Branford’s First Congregational Church. Working in partnership with Rev. Tom Blake of Branford’s Trinity Episcopal Church and in collaboration with the non-profit Community Dining Room (CDR), Joe is thrilled to help share the news about two very special Pride events planned to support and celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community. June is Pride Month.

The June 8 Pride events kick off with a supportive rally on the Branford town green from 5 to 6 p.m., featuring food trucks, music, and several guest speakers. Next up, at 6:30 p.m., First Congregational Church opens its doors at 1009 Main Street as the presenting sponsor of a very special Pride Prom.

With its 1980s theme, the all-ages Pride Prom encourages guests to arrive in their best ‘80s outfits to enjoy dancing to DJ Ricky Vizz, prizes, and refreshments. Funds raised from Pride Prom will support CDR’s mission to support the food insecure by providing access to fresh and nutritious food. To purchase tickets for $30, visit, contact Patrick Hackett at, or call 203-747- 6230.

“It’s going to be a fun time, and it’s for a good cause,” says Joe. “All the money raised will support the CDR, and people in the LGBT community are disproportionately affected by food insecurity. That’s why we’re connecting the funding with CDR.”

As someone with a passion for social justice and serving the most vulnerable community members, Joe can attest to the fact that many LGBTQIA+ people are at greater risk for food insecurity. During his first full-time ministry position, a Pastoral Residency in New York City with Rauschenbusch Metro Ministries, he provided pastoral care on the streets of Hell’s Kitchen and engaged direct social services including clothing closets, medical outreach, and running a food pantry.

A Florida native, Joe attended seminary in Richmond, Virginia, where he earned a Master of Divinity concentrating in Biblical Interpretation, focusing on the Hebrew Bible. While in seminary, he served as Pastoral Intern and later as a Children’s Ministry Associate at The Tabernacle Baptist Church, an ethnically diverse inner-city community.

Joe says both Pride events in Branford will help to communicate that this is a welcoming place to the LGBTQIA + community. He says that’s especially important in today’s political climate, when people, especially transgender people, but not exclusively, are being attacked.

“We like to think of Connecticut as a progressive and welcoming place, but it isn’t always,” says Joe. “Father Blake and I want people to know that Branford is a safe place. Trinity Episcopal and First Congregational are sponsoring this together, and we think it’s significant that churches are the ones who are bringing Pride to Branford because so much harm has been done to LGBT people in the name of Christianity, and obviously, we do not adhere to that brand of Christianity.”

Joe says both churches are open and affirming of LGBTQIA+ people “...not in spite of our faith, but because of it. And we want people to know that our congregations are safe for them and for their children. We believe by doing some of this work, we can start to undo some of the harm that has been done by other people who claim to share our faith.”

Joe appreciates the deep ties First Congregational Church has had to Branford throughout the town’s history but also points out that the congregation has evolved greatly over the centuries.

“This church and the town of Branford were one and the same for many years. They were both founded in 1644,” says Joe. “The congregation has come a really long way. Over the decades, it’s evolved away from the group of Puritans who founded Branford all those centuries ago. It is a very welcoming and inclusive community. We are very mission-minded. Most of our identity is wrapped up in the ways we can serve the community.”

As Branford’s first Pride activities draw near, Joe also credits other Branford individuals for organizing past shows of community support to the LGBTQIA+ community. They include Colin Sheehan, whose efforts include organizing a community event following the Florida Pulse Nightclub tragedy in 2016, and Rev. Blake’s work to mark the 25th anniversary of the Wyoming beating death of Matthew Shepherd, with Trinity Episcopal’s remembrance gathering on the Branford Green in October 2023.

Joe says working together with Rev. Blake to develop Branford’s first Pride program has been a great collaboration.

“The two of us dreamed it up together,” says Joe. “Tom was the one who was responsible for the Matthew Shepherd event, and after that, the two of us felt that it was so successful that it would be good to bring actual Pride to Branford so that we could celebrate joy in the LGBT community, not just commemorate tragedy.”

Joe says CDR Executive Director Judy Barron has been a tremendous help with Pride planning. He also thanks the Guilford Foundation’s Youth Advisory Group for its assistance. The group connected with the Branford program through CDR, which serves the communities of Branford, North Branford, Guilford, and East Haven.

​Joe was called to begin his ministry with First Congregational Church in Branford three years ago. He and his wife, Julia, a Connecticut native, also share their dog, Scout, with the congregation. Fun fact: you can find Scout’s bio listed with the rest of the church staff at

Scout, who often accompanies Joe to the office, has the unofficial title of “Associate Minister for Pawstoral Care,” Joe notes.

“She comes to church regularly, and she helps me with pastoral care,” he says.