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LGBTQIA Rights

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Young Man at the Boston Pride Parade, 2013

National Coming Out Day

by  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

by  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

by 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

by  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

by  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

by  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

by 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.”

by  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

by  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

by  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

by 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

by 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

by 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.

Pride Parade Flag

The Great Pride Parade Adventure

by  Gabrielle Orcha

Pride. When we are aware of our own dignity and worth; when we feel deep pleasure from our own and others’ achievements; when we delight in who we are and what we do. Pride.

Adrienne Rich

Adrienne Rich: navigating hope

by  Judith Rosenbaum

The news of Adrienne Rich’s death yesterday at age 82 sent me immediately to my bookshelves and an extended swim through the currents of words she has left behind. All writers believe in the power of words—and maybe especially poets, whose words are fewer and so carefully chosen—but for me Rich’s writing particularly and persuasively argued for the ability of words, language, expression to create new realities, to change the world.

Ketubah

Reclaiming the Ketubah as a symbol of equality and women's independence

by  Allyson Block

The evolution of the Ketubah in the Jewish tradition has taken an interesting turn in recent times.

Susan Rosenberg's "An American Radical"

Susan Rosenberg, An American Radical

by  Judith Rosenbaum

I guess it’s inevitable, when you’re at a book talk by a 1970s radical political activist who was wanted by the FBI, went underground, got arrested, and spent 16 and a half years behind bars, that someone will ask  “How do you understand what you did and why?” Susan Rosenberg made an honest attempt to answer a complex question, ending with a shrug and the explanation, “That's a different book.”

Debbie Friedman

The Lives They Lived: Jewish women to remember in 2011

by  Leah Berkenwald

“[Debbie Friedman] emphasized the value of every voice and the power of song to help us express ourselves and become our best selves. As she wrote for JWA's online exhibit Jewish Women and the Feminist Revolution: 'The more our voices are heard in song, the more we become our lyrics, our prayers, and our convictions.' The woman who wrote the song that asks God to 'help us find the courage to make our lives a blessing' herself modeled for us what that looks like.”—Judith Rosenbaum.
Learn more >>

Interfaith leaders rally to raise awareness of homelessness among LGBTQ youth

by  Chanel Dubofsky

When I moved to New York City, I was told that there are a set of rules one should follow in order to ride the subway safely.

It Gets Better: Where are the Jews?

by  Kate Bigam

By now, the It Gets Better Project has made headlines around the world, with everyone from Lady Gaga to president Obama posting a video to support and encourage LGBT youth. A number of Jewish leaders have joined the conversation by making videos of their own. Here are a few of my favorites. Let me know if I’ve missed any good ones!

Lesléa Newman

Ms. Magazine: A chat with Lesléa “Heather Has Two Mommies” Newman

by  Leah Berkenwald

I want to give a shout out to Lesléa Newman, an iconic yet under-recognized gay Jewish writer whose work continues to inform the changing landscape of GLBT rights in the U.S.

Girl Scouts, 2009

Girl Scouts of Colorado take a stand against gender injustice

by  Kate Bigam

The Jewish community has had a varied relationship with scouting.

Gertrude Elion Poster

Posters in the classroom: Outdated or just underused?

by Jewesses With Attitude

Earlier this week in The Sisterhood, Renee Ghert-Zand discussed Keshet’s new poster series recognizing “Jewish LGBT Change Makers,” asking if posters were an outdated educational tool. Renee drew comparisons to JWA’s own Women of Valor poster series, and expressed concern that Keshet’s posters would face the same challenges that she saw with ours. She wrote:

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