Pride Month, to me, is an occasion to celebrate visibility. It provides an opportunity for a community that can sometimes operate under the radar to proudly showcase our unity. Living in Chicago’s official gay district (since 1997!), it is quite common to see LGBTQ+ individuals and rainbow flags around. Yet I still get excited each time I witness a couple holding hands as they stroll down the street. It is a reminder that people like me exist. Even after being out for almost 15 years, there is still a part of me that longs to see people like me, and to be seen for who I am.
This year, though, I am reminded that the heightened visibility of Pride month comes with a price. While it helps us forge connections within our community, it also puts us at a greater risk of being targeted and marginalized. This year we have seen a sharp increase in hate crimes against our community, and a rise in anti-LGBTQ+ legislation.
Nevertheless, I hold onto hope for this year’s Pride season. Now, more than ever, it is crucial for us to come together and celebrate our identities. I also implore our allies to reflect upon the true origins and purpose of Pride – a time to reaffirm the immense value of our community when we find ourselves under attack. I will be celebrating our community with a Pride Shabbat Dinner at my home. Join me if you’re in Chicago, or host your own Pride Shabbat meal with OneTable.
We have so many events this month – I hope to see you at one! To learn more about the history of the LGBTQ+ Jews, join our virtual Conversation with Noam Sienna, author of A Rainbow Thread: An Anthology of Queer Jewish Texts from the First Century to 1969. If you’re in Brooklyn, join us for Seudah Shlishit at the home of Shlomo Ashkinazy during Brooklyn Pride. We will be presenting a screening and discussion of a new Israeli film Aron Hakodesh/The Holy Closet in Boston. And if you love to dance or march with us in New York City, waving our flags in celebration, join us on June 4 for the Celebrate Israel Parade and on June 25 for Jew York Pride – brunch + the Pride Parade with all your favorite queer Jews!
Let’s stand united and continue to foster an environment of acceptance, love, and understanding. Together, we can create a world where the LGBTQ+ community thrives – even in Orthodox spaces.