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).

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© 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/

Stronger Together!

Stronger Together!

Over this past Family Day Weekend, I spent a lot of time reflecting both about the challenges we face, but also about the incredible strength and resiliency of this community. Jewish students are often at the forefront of hate and discrimination on campus and online, but we are at our most powerful – and most effective – when we work together as one.

With that in mind, I want to provide several important advocacy updates.

First, I am excited to share that Hillel Ontario has begun convening meetings to coordinate advocacy initiatives amongst Jewish campus organizations across the country. The time has come for Hillel Ontario to lead the way in encouraging cooperation to accomplish the goals we collectively share. Joining us in these monthly discussions are Hillel Montreal, Hillel BC, Hillel Ottawa, CJPAC, Hasbara Fellowships and StandWithUs. We appreciate their willingness to engage with us in these important conversations.

Second, I want to update you on the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) matter that galvanized much community discussion last week. In addition to endorsing a motion to divest from companies doing business in Israel, the union misrepresented the recently released report of the Antisemitism Working Group and its approach to what does or does not constitute antisemitism. Hillel views these type of divestment motions as part of a wider issue of antisemitism on campus, and we have made that point clearly and consistently to university leadership and members of the Working Group for the better part of the past year.

Late Friday, Working Group members released an important statement, which both criticized the rhetoric of union leaders, and vindicated our belief that hate speech directed at Israel, Israelis or Jews based on actions (real or imagined) of the Israeli government is antisemitism. This is an important moment; one that underscores why our approach to these issues, and the allies we foster across campus are so critical. While we may not be able to stop every divestment motion from passing, we can – and we will continue to – have our voices heard by university leadership to ensure antisemitism remains on the margins. This is precisely what happened last week at the UofT.

Jewish students deserve to study, live and socialize in an environment free from harassment and discrimination. Hillel will continue to condemn antisemitism, defend Israel and our right to self-determination, and build essential relationships on campus to secure the well-being of the students we so proudly serve.

And, we will do so in concert with our allies; because we believe we are stronger together.

Sincerely,

Jay Solomon
Chief Communications & Public Affairs Officer

Nature vs. Nurture, and Nate Deserves Our Anger

Nature vs. Nurture, and Nate Deserves Our Anger

Weekly D’var: Toldot 5782 by Scott Goldstein

[Warning: Ted Lasso show spoiler] I just finished watching the second season of Ted Lasso, and I cannot get the image of the finale out of my head. Haven’t seen it yet? That’s ok, I’ll recap part of this week’s Torah portion as you go catch up and then tie it in at the end for when you get back.

When not detailing the intricate politics of well-digging and water rights, this week’s Torah portion takes some time to highlight our favourite biblical twins – Jacob and Esav (a.k.a. Esau). Some may even refer to this as the first twin study on “Nature vs. Nurture” (shoutout to my psychology peeps) ever recorded. We are presented with brothers that were raised in the same environment but turned out to be polar opposites. I’ll let you read the riveting stories of birthright transactions and elaborate deceptions on your own, but the narrative we are presented with is clear: Jacob is good, and Esav is bad. Here’s the problem I had with this narrative: If Esav was raised in a good environment, but still did bad things, then is the Torah telling us that our destiny is sealed by nature?

I just finished watching Ted Lasso, and I cannot help but think about how loveable Nate (played by Nick Mohammed) is a perfect example of what I think our Torah portion is trying to tell us. Ted Lasso (played masterfully by Jason Sudeikis) created a nurturing environment where Nate could grow from invisible kit manager to assistant coach that everyone loves. Despite all that, it comes down to the decisions Nate made to allow jealousy to influence his actions, leading him to leave Richmond FC and betray his teammates by joining West Ham United.

I think the story we read in the Torah is reminding us that both nature and nurture are really important (just as science does), but our decisions, ultimately, are our own. Whether it’s Esav going down in history as the ultimate example of bad decision-making or Nate likely being the reason we see Ted cry next season, the lesson is clear… be like Jacob because we can make good decisions no matter the circumstances.

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