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 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).
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).
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/)
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.
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/).
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).
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)