Pride Month 2013

Pride 14
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At the Boston Pride Parade, 2013.

For the month of June JWA is celebrating Pride Month with LGBTQ voices of the Jewish community. We are excited to mark the long and complex history of Jewish and Queer activists working together for equality. Jewish women like PFLAG Co-Founder Jeanne Manford, artist Adrienne Rich, and Congresswoman Bella Abzug are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Jewish women standing for equality. Like every fight, it has not always been easy. Strides are still being made, and battles are still being waged. Never the less, there is much to celebrate.

Keep your eye on Jewesses with Attitude this month as we welcome guest bloggers to share their stories and to explore the victories, challenges, and richness of a Queer Jewish identity.

Jewish Women and LGBTQ Pride

"As a woman, as a lesbian, as a Jew, I know that much of what I call history others will not. But answering that challenge of exclusion is the work of a lifetime."

My Thoroughly Jewish Gender

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Maya Brodkey

A Jewess isn’t like other women – the word alone makes her stand apart. There’s a slight sense of both shaming and warning in the label, as if it’s her fault that she’s different and she should feel bad about it, and also, you should probably stay away from her—she’s a little different, that one.  “Jewess” has connotations of too much: too loud, too pushy, too big, too different (or, according to OkCupid, “more aggressive). She doesn’t perform her femininity as well as non-Jewish women for these reasons—while she’s still recognizable as a women, she’s a different kind of woman. Because of this, “Jewess,” to me, feels more than a little queer.

Time to Sparkle*

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Tera “Nova Jade* Greene

As a Queer, Jewish, Woman of Color, the ironic thing is that my labels – diverse and full of Otherness as they are – have not been my biggest life-barriers thus far.  My SELF has.  When I decided to forgive everyone, myself and all past experience, my old self moved aside, and the new, better version of my Self emgerged:

Shiny. Perfect (with a lil’ bit of the roughness on the edges for effect). Whole.

Being Visible as a Queer Jew

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My LGBTQ Jewish heroes are less well known.  They're couples who I've watched argue over parshiot, joke about the treyf zone in their otherwise kosher home, and plot to have the gayest purim costumes (I believe they decided on a Roman and a his slave!)  They are the people who showed me there was more to Judaism and same sex relationships than a few verses in Leviticus, and introduced me to the five genders within Jewish tradition.  I could keep adding to this list, but the truth of it is that the people on it are my friends and mentors, members of my congregation and chosen family. 

Queer Identity: More Questions than Answers

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Pride 10

I didn’t realize it would be so hard to be queer after I got married. Seems like it should have been obvious to me, right? Marry a heterosexual cis-man, turn in queer club card, do not pass go, still collect hundreds of dollars of apparently-straight privilege. Is that how it has to be?

Hot Dads, Privilege, and Fairness

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Seth and Liana

Let’s be honest: fair or not, I’m a pretty privileged parent.  True, being a single gay Jewish dad in a relatively gay-less and Jewishly deprived region occasionally makes me feel like an exotic animal at a religious petting zoo or some interactive exhibit at a sexual orientation museum.  But moments like these pass quickly and are replaced by reminders of my advantaged status, regardless of how just this may be.

Proud, Yet Ambivalent: Immigration Reform, Pride and the LGBT Community

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Pride 4

This year, I can’t help but color my pride with a slight bit of ambivalence as a result of the failure of Senator Patrick Leahy’s amendment to the current Immigration bill, which would have recognized same-sex bi-national couples, affording them the same rights and benefits that opposite-sex couples obtain during the immigration process.

The Faces of Boston Pride

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Pride 13

They say there’s nothing like a parade—and they’re right. This weekend I marched in my first ever Pride parade, proudly carrying my JWA bag, a Keshet sign reading “another Jew for LGBTQ equality,” and my camera. The weather called for rain, but I wasn’t about to let that get me down. I packed my raincoat and channeled my inner Barbra, declaring that no one dare rain on my parade.

Claiming our Inheritance at the Boston Dyke March

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Shabbat Dyke March

As a member of the GLBTQ community and a rabbinical student, it is clear to me that the words “there is no need” do not apply to places where Jewish and Queer communities intersect.  There is so much need.  Before these needs can be addressed, they need to be made visible.  GLBTQ Jews need to be seen as vital members of our GLBTQ communities.  We need to be seen and valued as Jews who have vast interests and abilities and life experiences that can, and already do, enrich Jewish life.  We, GLBTQ Jews, also need to stand up and claim Jewish community, Jewish tradition, and Jewish law for ourselves.

“I struggle.”

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Mehitzah

Growing up, my discomfort derived from the separate-but-equal mentality I found inherent within a mechitza service. Sometimes, the mechitza is a balcony (women in the back, men in the front). Sometimes, the Torah and the service-leader are only on the men’s side. Even in the more forward-thinking mechitza services that I’ve attended, there are still areas in which women may not lead. As an outspoken queer feminist, mechitzas make me uncomfortable... to say the least.

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