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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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

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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)

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© www.imdb.com/name/nm6341515/

Holocaust Remembrance Day 2023

Holocaust Remembrance Day 2023

In their research on listening to survivors of the Holocaust and other genocides, Bronwen E. Low and Emmanuelle Sonntag note listeners’ problematic tendencies towards one of two responses.  On the one hand, they can regard the narratives as so unfamiliar and foreign that they must be pushed away as overwhelming, untouchable, and inaccessible.  On the other, the stories can be seen as familiar, to the point that the listener cannot separate their own experiences and emotional response from what they take in.

But another, preferable response exists: Roger I. Simon and Claudia Eppert talk about a “chain of testimony” and suggest that listening imposes a duty on the listener.  Listening to personal testimony at the crossroads of memory and history “imposes particular obligations on those called to receive it – obligations imbued with the exigencies of justice, compassion, and hope that define the horizon for a world yet to be realized.”  In this way, bearing witness and listening to testimony demands a number of actions and responses, including that we “transport and translate stories of past injustices beyond their moment of telling by taking these stories to another time and space where they become available to be heard or seen.”

If we take Simon and Eppert’s charge seriously, as I believe we should, those of us who have been privileged to hear the direct testimony of survivors of the Holocaust.  Their words come not just with the specific knowledge they impart or the emotional impact they have on us – sorrow, anger, fear, horror – but with a duty, an obligation of some kind.  

On many of our campuses, this week is Holocaust Education Week, and this Friday marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day.  Given the significant number of Holocaust survivors and their descendants in Canada, the scheduled events and programs have a personal resonance for many of our students and their families, but their impact can be deep and meaningful for all of us, regardless of who we are and where we come from.  I encourage each of you to make time to participate in this week’s activities and to consider your place in the chain of testimony: what obligation does listening to narratives from the Holocaust place on you, and how do you carry those stories forward in time?

 

Weekly D’var: Shemot

Weekly D’var: Shemot

In this week’s parashah we learn the story of Moses, from his birth, through his flight from and eventual return to Egypt, to the acceptance of his role as leader of the Hebrew people.

After fleeing Egypt, for killing an Egyptian slave master, Moses was living rather peacefully as a shepherd in the land of Midian. The Torah describes for us Moses’s first interaction with G-d upon coming across a bush, “burning with a heart of fire [Exodus 3:3]”. G-d calls out to Moses and requests he take the Jewish people out of Egypt and eventually into the land of Israel. However, Moses argues with G-d, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh? Who am I that I should take the Jews out of Egypt? [Exodus 3:11]” After initially refusing four times, Moses eventually agrees to G-ds request, and as we know, the rest is history. But why was Moses so unwilling to take up the position of leader, to the extent that he would argue with G-d? And why was G-d so set on having Moses lead the Jewish people? 

Perhaps the answer can be found through the incident that led to his flight from Egypt, years earlier, when Moses, as mentioned above, killed an Egyptian slave master for beating a Hebrew slave. Immediately, he was met with opposition from some of the Hebrew slaves, “who made you chief and ruler over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian? [Exodus 2:14]” Moses felt discouraged and unsure of his ability to lead. However, it seems that G-d saw in Moses, a faithful shepherd, the ability to lead his people from slavery to freedom. Very often in Tanakh, the people that are most worthy to lead are the ones who deny that they are worthy at all. Moses may not appear to be the first choice for a leadership figure, suffering from a speech impediment and lacking charisma; however, Moses possessed certain qualities that made him the ideal leader to bring the Jewish people out of Egypt. We too possess qualities that can lead us to achieve incredible success and realize our full potential. We may often feel unmotivated or unsure of our own capabilities. Instead of feeling discouraged, I believe we can look to Moses who, despite all his doubts, stepped up to the challenge and became the greatest leader in Jewish history. 

Sam Virine
VP of Jewish Life at Hillel Waterloo & Laurier

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