10 Jewish LGBT Leaders You Need to Know
As double minorities, LGBT Jews are small in number but have left a profound mark on the course of history.
It’s not surprising that Jews have played a monumental role in erasing bigotry in all shapes and forms. Inherent in Jewish identity is a drive for social justice, or tikkun olam, the belief in repairing the world. From the initial battle for decriminalization and workplace protections to the fight against AIDS and the pursuit for marriage equality, LGBT Jews have been at the forefront of the equality movement.
In honor of Pride Month, here are ten influential LGBT Jewish leaders you need to know:
Cutting Against the Bias
Yeshiva boy Daniel Friedman once built buildings. Now he builds suits to fit the changing bodies of transgender New Yorkers.
When I called Bindle and Keep founder Daniel Friedman on a Thursday afternoon, he was in a car en route to Boro Park, Brooklyn, to meet with an Orthodox rabbi who was going to advise him on the forecast of his romantic future. “I asked my parents if I could see this rabbi,” Friedman said. His father had apparently once sought out this rabbi’s wisdom before having surgery. “I figured he was the right person to see if I needed some advising on my life, and marriage.” Friedman told me from his mobile phone that he was worried about revealing the nature of his work to this traditionalist, religious man. Bindle and Keep’s customers are predominantly transgender and queer-identified individuals looking for tailored clothes to accentuate their desired gendered characteristics. As the progressive firm’s founder—and now the subject of Suited, a documentary film airing tonight on HBO—Friedman feared the Orthodox rabbi would judge him for serving a predominantly LGBT population. But that wasn’t the case.
Transgender Man Gives Birth to a Baby Boy
It’s official: Trystan Reese, a transgender man, has given birth to a baby boy with his partner Biff Chaplow. Their son, Leo Murray Chaplow, was born on July 14. The couple, who have been together for seven years, live in Portland, Oregon.
While Leo is the couple’s first biological child, parenting is nothing new for them, as they already have children: They adopted Chaplow’s niece and nephew in 2011. It’s been reported that both Leo and Reese are doing well post-birth.
In general, the couple have been public about their experiences, documenting their parenting journey on their personal website and Facebook page. On Facebook, Reese posted a video back in March explaining his choice to carry a baby as a transgender man, saying:
I’m Black, Jewish And Gay — And Food Is My Weapon Against Bigotry
I am going back to the mountaintop.
In three weeks, I will return to Charlottesville, Virginia. It is not because it became last Saturday the site of an American pogrom.
Last weekend dozens of people were injured during violence sparked by the Unite the Right rally and counter protests. Two law enforcement officers were killed in a helicopter crash, a 20-year-old young African-American man was beaten bloody by a mob and one woman, Heather Heyer, was run over by a car and killed. Over two days, chants of “Blood and Soil!,” “Race Traitors,” “F—k You Fa—ots” and “Jews Will Not Replace Us” pierced the air.
North American Jews urge Israel to provide equal adoption rights for same-sex couples
Some 200 Jewish leaders and institutions from North America urged the Israeli government to end discrimination against same-sex couples who want to adopt children.
The call came in a letter to the government coordinated by A Wider Bridge, a San Francisco-based organization that focuses on ties between U.S. and Israeli LGBTQ communities. Signatories included Hillel International, leaders of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Union of Reform Judaism, prominent Jewish LGBT leaders and over 60 U.S. rabbis.