When Eddie Acosta turned to Desert Hope Treatment Center, an American Addiction Centers facility in Las Vegas, in January 2015, he was at one of the lowest points in his life.
Fast forward to today, and Acosta is not only 18 months sober, but he’s also on a mission to make a difference in West Hudson and beyond.
For his efforts, on Saturday, Aug. 27, organizers of the Jersey City LGBT Pride Festival were to honor Acosta with the Young Activist Award.
“Receiving this award means the world to me, especially considering where I was just 18 months ago,” Acosta said. “I want to help other addicts see you can make your own life better and have a positive impact on those around you. I learned about the importance of giving back while at Desert Hope.”
It was an article about Acosta in this newspaper several months ago that impressed Pride organizers. After learning about the Orlando shootings at Pulse Nightclub in June and witnessing the unrest in his own community, Acosta organized a peaceful march within a matter of days.
He was able to get the support of the towns and police departments in Kearny, East Newark and Harrison, while bringing together more than 150 people from all walks of life, for his event — The Walk for Love. Walkers were gay, they were straight, they were Latino, they were black. Love was all that mattered.
“I woke up Friday, June 17, and I thought to myself, ‘enough!’” Acosta told The Observer prior to the walk. “Enough of the hate. Enough of the violence. I wanted to do something about it and the idea of the walk came to be. Now I had no idea if I was going to be able to pull it off. But the idea was there — my partner Gerard and some of my friends decided we were going to do something about it — and we did it, and it’s just amazing we were able to pull it off in just about a week.
“It really was a historical moment. I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of a time, ever, where a drag queen walked down Kearny Ave. in six-inch heels carrying the flag.”
During the walk, Acosta raised more than $650 for those impacted by the Florida shootings. The money was sent to the official fund that disbursed money to the victims and their families.
“We were so inspired by Eddie that we decided to create an award to recognize his efforts and those of another young activist, 14-year-old Siena Malmad, who organized Teen Pride — Gender Euphoria for this year’s Pride festival,” said Eduardo Baez, co-producer of Jersey City’s annual LGBT Pride Festival. “To accomplish what Eddie did in a short amount of time was no easy task. He saw a problem and took it upon himself to create a solution. We were also touched by his recovery story. Finding the strength to go through recovery and to do something meaningful in the process, is significant and impactful. If he can do it, anyone can.”
“We all have the power to make a difference,” Acosta said.
Learn more about the writer ...
Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.