Former president Bill Clinton designated the month of June as Gay and Lesbian Pride Month in 2000. Last year President Obama expanded the month to celebrate the entire gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender (GLBT) community. From the beginnings of the Gay Rights movement in at Stonewall, Jewish women have played an important part in the fight for equality.
In JWA’s feature on Jewish women and GLBT Pride, 9 trailblazing activists are celebrated for their work toward equal rights and inclusion and acceptance in the Jewish community, including Joan Nestle, who helped launch the Gay Academic Union and co-founded the Lesbian Herstory Archives; U.S. Congresswoman Bella Abzug, who introduced the first Federal bill to support gay/lesbian rights; Sharon Kleinbaum, the rabbi of Congregation Beth Simchat Torah (a gay and lesbian synagogue in NYC); and Shulamit Izen, a GLBT Jewish youth activist who established a Gay-Straight Alliance at her Jewish Day School.
In honor of GLBT Pride Month, we would like to know who else should be recognized. Do you know any Jewish women dedicated to GLBT rights that you would like to add to our list? Visit the page and share her story in the comments section.
I have one woman in mind. Lesléa Newman, author of the infamous, groundbreaking children’s book Heather Has Two Mommies. My mother loved Heather Has Two Mommies and we found it especially relevant when our new neighbors moved in and my new playmate, Hannah, also had two mommies. Lesléa Newman has since written several more children’s books about gay and lesbian families, including Mommy, Mama, and Me, and Daddy, Papa, and Me.
But Lesléa Newman’s contributions extend far beyond her work in children’s literature. She is also an award-winning author of literature and poetry for adults that deals with her identity as a Jew, a lesbian, and as a Jewish lesbian. Her award-winning short story A Letter to Harvey Milk has been made into a film and adapted for the stage. In 2009 I attended a writing workshop she led at my synagogue, and found her to be warm, engaging, and absolutely brilliant. For the contributions she has made, and for those she continues to make, I have added her to JWA’s feature on Jewish Women and GLBT Pride.
Don’t forget that you can also put her story “On the Map!”
Photo credit: Jordan Namerow