6 Influential Jews Who Show Their LGBTQ Pride

by | Jun 19, 2017 | Entertainment, Event, Hillel Ontario, News | 0 comments

In honor of Pride Month, we put together a list of seven influential Jews who are supporting the LGBTQ community. Some are actively supporting LGBTQ organizations, while others came out as gay or transgender and act as role models to other members of the LGTBQ community. These famous figures share in common a passion for public support of the LGBTQ community and an understanding of the significant role they play in fostering LGBTQ pride.

 

Billy Eichner
Billy Eichner is one of the up and coming American comedians, hosting the comedy show Billy On The Street, and having starred in Parks and Recreation and American Horror Story. Billy Eichner is also part of the Jewish LGBTQ community, and openly supports and celebrates it: “Here is to being out of the closet and being yourself” (Eichner, 2017).

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© www.billboard.com/articles/columns/pop-shop/6738498/billy-eichner-adele-hello-joke

 

Victor Garber
Garber was born to Jewish parents in London, Ontario and is known for his roles in Titanic, Star Trek, Legally Blonde, and many more. The Canadian film, stage, and television actor likes to keep his personal life private. Despite his efforts to stay out of the spotlight, he did confirm that he is in a long-term relationship with his partner Rainer Andreesen, stating that “[he doesn’t] really talk about it but everybody knows.” (http://articles.latimes.com/2013/jan/15/entertainment/la-et-mg-victor-garber-gay-rainer-andreesen-20130115).

Victor-Garber-2

© http://jamescameronstitanic.wikia.com/wiki/Victor_Garber

 

Dana International
Sharon Cohen, also known as Dana International, had her biggest success 1998, when she won the Eurovision song contest for Israel. With eight albums and three compilation albums, the Israeli singer and songwriter is amongst Israel’s most successful musicians. Sharon Cohen, born Yaron Cohen, came out as transgender at the early age of 13.
With her win at the Eurovision Song Contest, Dana International fought the negative reactions she first received when Israel announced that they would send a transgender singer to represent them at this major annual European event. Since then, Dana International has become an LGBTQ icon and is internationally known for her success. (http://www.itgetsbetter.org/blog/entry/lgbt-community-in-israel/)

dana international

© https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/38/15/a8/3815a886b6ee23305465c004167468e7.jpg

 

Michael Kors
Michael Kors was born in Long Island, New York to a Jewish mother and a Swedish father. The successful, internationally known fashion designer is not only known for his clothing and jewelry lines, but also as a judge on Project Runway. In 2011, Kors and his life partner Lance Le Pere decided to get married. He stated “Lance and I are very excited to finally be able to have the opportunity to marry in our home state after many years together” (http://www.jta.org/2011/08/05/arts-entertainment/six-degrees-no-bacon/designer-michael-kors-to-mary-long-time-boyfriend). With their marriage, the fashion designer and his husband showed their support of marriage equality in the US.

Designer Michael Kors attends the 7th Annual CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Awards at Skylight SOHO on November 15, 2010 in New York City. 7th Annual CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Awards - Arrivals Skylight SOHO New York, NY United States November 15, 2010 Photo by Gary Gershoff/WireImage.com To license this image (62484579), contact WireImage.com

© www.popsugar.com/beauty/Michael-Kors-Talks-About-His-New-Fragrance-Gold-18196540

 

Harvey Fierstein
Best known for his roles in Mulan, Mrs. Doubtfire, and Independence Day, the actor and winner of multiple Tony Awards is a strong supporter of the LGTBQ community. Fierstein produced several musicals and plays with complex LGBTQ characters, puts a lot of effort into preserving the LGBTQ history and gave the LGBTQ community much support after the Orlando shooting in 2016. In reaction to the shooting the actor made the following very powerful statement: “These last two weeks have been very hard for all of us, especially for gay people. […] We knew that it was hate, but hate turned inward. Hate so strong, hate that destroyed so completely that his soul was gone and all he could do was cry out. And instead of knowing there was someone to cry out to and say, ‘Help me. Help me be myself. Tell me I’m all right,’ he took a gun to prove he was a man and destroyed hundreds of lives. (http://ew.com/article/2016/06/24/harvey-fierstein-orlando-trailblazer-awards/).

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© http://www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/harvey-fierstein-3408.php

 

Adam Lambert
Adam Lambert’s career as a singer, songwriter, and actor exploded 2009, when he blew the audience away at the eighth season of American Idol. Since then, the openly gay artist has been a heavy supporter of the LGBTQ community. With his famous quote, “Love overcomes hate. Love has no color. Love has no orientation. All is love” (Lambert, 2009), Lambert encouraged many people to be themselves. He is also known to support LGBTQ communities, such as The Trevor Project. In 2013, Lambert collaborated with AT&T, aiming to raise money for The Trevor Project, as seen here. (https://www.glaad.org/blog/video-adam-lambert-takes-part-att-live-proud-psa-campaign-raising-funds-trevor-project).

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© http://awiderbridge.org/queens-lead-guitarist-asks-adam-lambert-to-sing-in-hebrew-at-israel-concert/

 

Hari Nef
The model, Hari Nef, was born Harrison Jacob Neff to her Jewish parents in Philadelphia. Nef is the first transgender woman who was signed by one of the biggest model agencies, IGM Models. But more importantly for the LGBTQ community, the model has been a very active LGBTQ supporter, and is said to be leading today’s transgender revolution. (https://i-d.vice.com/en_us/article/meet-hari-nef-the-american-actress-leading-the-transgender-revolution)

hari nef

© www.imdb.com/name/nm6341515/

Something New

Something New

The fall post-holiday period is always a good time for launching new things. To the extent we’re not completely exhausted, our five-day work weeks are back (instead of five days of work crammed into three-day weeks), and we’re able to get into something of a rhythm and build momentum in moving toward specific goals.

Adding to the sense of newness and adventure, the third post-holidays Torah portion of Lekh Lekha, which was read this past Shabbat, begins with Abraham receiving divine instructions to leave his home and begin a journey to a new land.  Commentators highlight the uncertainty inherent in the command’s wording: instead of being directed to a specific place, Abraham, at least initially, is told to go “to the land that I will show you,” a vague and undisclosed destination. While he is promised blessings galore for his obedience, setting out requires an element of faith and quite a bit of trust as he leaves his home land and father’s house for somewhere new.

While it’s certainly several orders of magnitude smaller than the journey Abraham undertook, Hillel Ontario is trying something new this week: we’re introducing a new section to our regular newsletters and will be including a d’var Torah to showcase our students’ and staff’s skills and present our readers with a bit of Jewish learning. We hope you’ll find these commentaries inspiring and meaningful and that they’ll provide a glimpse of the Hillel Ontario community that spans our nine campuses.

A Message from Hillel Ontario’s Student Presidents

A Message from Hillel Ontario’s Student Presidents

Dear students, parents, supporters, and other members of the Ontario Jewish community,

We are writing to you as the Hillel presidents representing nine universities across Ontario. 

We are often asked what it’s like to be a Jewish student on campus. And, in previous years, we would have taken a more upbeat approach to answering that question. The truth is that things have changed over the past 5 months.

Prior to this spring’s war in Israel, we had never experienced the level of vitriol and backlash that we did recently. We were caught off guard. Many Jewish students lost friendships and severed connections that had been created over many years. Our mental health was stretched to the limit; we have felt burnt out, isolated and anxious.  Even now, with autumn upon us, we are still feeling the exhausting effects of a summer spent advocating for the well-being of our fellow Jewish students. 

Walking back onto campus this week, it was difficult to see some students obviously (and understandably) anxious – both because of the pandemic, and because of the antisemitism Jewish students have experienced over the past several months. At the same time, we also feel more empowered than ever to proclaim pride in our Jewish identity, bolstered by the tremendous support we have felt from across the community.  

Whether you are a first year student, a parent, a sibling, an alum, or simply a member of the community concerned about what seems like an endless barrage of attacks aimed at Jewish students on campus, we want to assure you that as Hillel presidents, we are deeply committed to our roles and responsibilities. We hear your concerns. And, we are proud to serve the current and future Jewish students we support.  

We are working to build relationships with student governments, clubs, interfaith groups, faculty, and administrators on each of our campuses. We continue to empower our peers to learn, to educate, and to advocate for the issues close to our hearts. And, we continue to provide a safe and welcoming community for Jewish students, both on and off campus. 

We also seek to increase resources and staff available to our students so that no one feels unsupported or ill-prepared. We want Jewish students to feel like they can be their entire selves without having to hide a Magen David or avoid conversations about Judaism, Zionism or Israel. 

As we move into a new Jewish year and a new school year, we wish we could say with more certainty exactly what is to come in the next few months. However, it would be naive to do so. Instead, we would like to take this opportunity to commit to you that we will continue to have challenging, but necessary, dialogue with allies across campus. We will continue to support our peers when they feel uncomfortable. And, we will continue to ask for help when we need it. 

Time and time again, our collective history has proven that in a proud, empowered, and united community there is strength, and that from one another we can draw resilience. 

L’shana Haba on quieter, more inclusive campuses. 

Ariel Oren, Guelph Hillel
Evan Kanter, Hillel Student Leader Representative, Hillel UofT
Nathaniel Katz, Queen’s Hillel
Shira Miller, Hillel Laurier
Danielle Lebowitz, Hillel Waterloo
Hannah Silverman, McMaster Hillel
Jordan Goldenberg, Hillel Ryerson
Isabel Borisov, Western Hillel
Nicole Bodenstein, York Hillel

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