LGBTQIA Rights

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Shulamit Izen

After realizing at an early age that she was a lesbian, Shulamit Izen devoted herself to creating a supportive environment for Jewish GLBTQ teens.

Vicki Gabriner

As a radical activist for civil rights, feminism, and an end to the Vietnam War, Vicki Gabriner risked her life to transform the country at a time of tremendous upheaval.
Miriasha Borsykowsky and Laverne Cox

Laverne Cox's Brave New Platform

Miriasha Borsykowsky

I consider myself a feminist, and I also strive to combat other axes of oppression in my daily life, but sometimes I fall through. Far too often, I’ll stay quiet when I hear someone make a transphobic comment or a misogynistic remark. Some days I’m really not up to challenging that person, but other times I just let myself believe that it’s not my battle, that it doesn’t matter, that someone else will take care of it.

Joan Nestle

More than ever, I believe in a feminism that does not run from the full complexity of women's lives, from the vital differences between us as well as the connections that bind us.

Cheryl Moch

That mythical portal had been revealed exclusively to women at the '73 conference: now we'd partner with our brothers and walk through together.

Sharon Kleinbaum

I never wanted to simply be a female rabbi. I want to be a part of a Judaism that is transformed by feminism.

Gloria Greenfield

In the late 1960s, I began a journey “out of the patriarchy” towards territory unknown.

Tamara Cohen

We knew that Jewish feminism needed to be suffused through all of Jewish practice so that it would be impossible to ignore.

Marla Brettschneider

We are an adoptive, multi-racial, two mom family with a mix of Jews birthed, raised, and by choice.

Blurred Lines in Parshat Vayera

Becky Silverstein

As a female-bodied person who wears clothing typically reserved for men and occasionally uses male pronouns, I know the world of bluriness. I walk through it everyday, and I see the way it is threatening to people. I have compassion for Sarah, because I see her in the face of all those who struggle with excellent intentions to locate my gender in their understanding of the world. I know the ways in which it pushes me outside of community, and I see the ways in which sharing my whole self with people allows them to bring me in. It is an experience of deep pain and of greater joy. Of pure laughter and the laughter that comes in response to the sheer absurdity of any given moment in my life. To be sure, it is not only genderqueer or trans* identified people who live in the bluriness or on the edge. People with disabilities, those of lower economic classes, single parents, interfaith members of our community — they also live in the blurriness, on the edge of at least one boundary or another.

And so I read this week’s Torah portion as a caution. As a call to notice, to investigate, to counter moments when a blurred line is making us uncomfortable or when we are too narrowly prescribing a person’s identity.

Young Man at the Boston Pride Parade, 2013

National Coming Out Day

Jordyn Rozensky

Today marks National Coming Out Day. In honor of the 25th anniversary of this day of celebration and action, we are sharing a few of our favorite stories of identity, activism, and heroism in the LGBTQ community from our blog.

Topics: LGBTQIA Rights

Elissa Froman, 1983 - 2013

She didn’t want to be known as the girl with cancer. She wanted to be known as a social justice activist, as someone working to repair the world.

My Thoroughly Jewish Gender

Anonymous

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.

Topics: LGBTQIA Rights

Being Visible as a Queer Jew

Vanessa “Vinny” Prell

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. 

Topics: LGBTQIA Rights
Young People at the Boston Pride Parade, 2013

Queer Identity: More Questions than Answers

Mimi Arbeit

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?

Topics: LGBTQIA Rights
Participant with Banner at the Boston Pride Parade, 2013

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

Ariel Naveh

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.

A Young Child at the Boston Pride Parade, 2013

The Faces of Boston Pride

Jordyn Rozensky

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.

Boston Dyke March

Claiming our Inheritance at the Boston Dyke March

Becky Silverstein

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.

Mehitzah

“I struggle.”

Samantha Kuperberg

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.

Josh Lutch

There’s More To This Story

Josh Lutch

At the festival after the parade, my friend Becca slowly walked me over to the Keshet table. By putting my name on the Keshet sign-up sheet, I was stating that I can’t just be a gay man; I’m a gay Jewish man—my gay identity and my Jewish identity work together.

Topics: LGBTQIA Rights
Jewish GLBT Flag Displayed from a Warsaw Building

Learn to Do Good, Seek Justice, Relieve the Oppressed

Talia bat Pessi

I’m not sure when I realized that the true Torah value is inclusion and acceptance of our LGBT+ brethren. Perhaps it was because my mom became close friends with a gay man who’s very active in gay social life. Maybe it was because of my increased involvement in feminism; after all, the National Organization for Women (NOW), the largest feminist organization in the US (of which I am a member), lists lesbian rights as one of its top priority issues. Or maybe it was just maturity. Whatever the reason and whenever it actually happened, I began to support gay rights, both within and without the Jewish community.

Jeanne Manford, 1920 - 2013

She worked hard and organized. She would call parents cold when she learned they had a problem. “We don’t want to intrude,” she’d say, “but we can help.”

Mona Golabek

Reflections on the Theatre

Jewesses With Attitude

As a special treat for our blog readers, we’re taking this Friday to do a bit of a blog round up. Our bloggers often explore areas of entertainment, and nothing gets us writing more than a good night out at the theatre. Check out these five incredibly diverse blog entries, each focusing on a different aspect of the stage.

Estelle Getty at the 41st Emmy Awards, September 17, 1989

Estelle Getty: Golden Girl

Jewesses With Attitude

Do I admire her because she's been described as "... evasive about her height, acknowledging only that she was under 5 feet and under 100 pounds?" Well, all the more points to Estelle Getty for being an itsy-bitsy powerhouse, but mostly I admire her for being a genuinely funny, talented woman, who never gave up on her greatest ambitions. In an industry where youth and beauty are often valued far above maturity and wit, Estelle turned the tables. She found success in her later years, cracked wise about it the whole time, and taught young women like myself a few things along the way.

True Colors Group Rehearsal

Painting the World with True Colors: An Interview with Two Jewish Women Helping to Tell an Incredible Story

Etta King Heisler

In the one instant of silence between the curtain and the applause I remember feeling alive. I remember feeling like my heart had been ripped out of my chest, bounced down a basketball court, and thrown through the hoop for the winning shot. Then we (the audience) erupted in cheers. I was elated, proud, and profoundly humbled.

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