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Atlantic City’s new LGBTQ+ leader has deep understanding of city’s history

Judah-Abijah Dorrington is leading in a new day for Atlantic City.
The city’s first LGBTQ+ program coordinator wants to use the newly formed position to create an environment that was much different for those growing up in the 1960s and 70s.
While Atlantic City is “a very nurturing place and good community to grow up in, myself and others faced persecution,” Dorrington said.
There was no LGBTQ+ community back then. No interest in understanding different sexual orientations or what pronouns people prefer to reflect their own identity. School was a difficult place where bullying of kids like Dorrington was not only accepted, but often defended.
“There were teachers and people like that who tried to tell us, ‘Well, just don’t be that way and these things won’t happen to you,’” recalled Dorrington, who identifies as non-binary and prefers not to use pronouns.
It’s what led Dorrington to leave Atlantic City in 1974, as the pursuit of something new led to Berklee College of Music in Boston.
Massachusetts would become home for the next decades, leading to a wife, a new business and an understanding of how to educate and empower people.
Dorrington and Saunders LLC is the collaboration of Dorrington and wife, La Verne Saunders, with a goal of helping their customers “thrive in ways that service and promote the good inherent nature of human beings, increase hope and resilience, and enhance the quality of life, and heal from traumatizing oppressions.”
It also has given Dorrington the tools to come back and fix the issues of a hometown that seems ready for change and acceptance.
“It’s a great day in the city of Atlantic City,” Dorrington said, borrowing Mayor Marty Small’s catchphrase. “It’s also a brand new day in the city of Atlantic City.”
Judah Dorrington’s mother’s death in 2005 brought her back to the city.
The Dorringtons’ only child then stayed to take care of father, Art Dorrington, a city legend who broke the color barrier in professional hockey in the United States and later led the city’s youth with his ice hockey program and as a softball coach.
But it wasn’t until this past July that Judah saw a new purpose in moving back home.
A get together led to a new focus on the LGBTQ+ community.
It was then that the mayor pledged his support, saying that the community “deserves a place in the society of Atlantic City and that it’s been long overdue,” Dorrington recalled.
Now, Judah joins the ranks of groundbreakers like Art and Dorothie Dorrington.
While Art broke the NHL’s color barrier, mother Dorothie had her own firsts as a black woman leading the Atlantic City Board of Education and working as a learning disabilities specialist in Ventnor.
“The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” Judah Dorrington said. “I get to be the first something. My parents would be very proud.”
Dorrington is overwhelmed at the chance to make a change, calling it a “’Wizard of Oz,’ Dorothy over the rainbow experience.”
“When most people are retiring, I’m picking up the banner to start something else,” the soon-to-be-65-year-old said. “I get to come back here to a place that has good soil now that I can plant seeds in and see something grow.”

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