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  • Writer's pictureAriel Tovlev

Chag Ga'avah Sameach -- Happy Pride!

Updated: Dec 12, 2023

Ze'evi and I went to pride wearing our pride kippot, and I had on a Jewish queer pride flag. Throughout our day/evening, multiple people came up to us to talk about us being visibly Jewish and visibly queer. At first we got comments from non-Jews, telling us how nice it was to see people like us there. And then we got approached by Jewish people. Some came right up to us and said "Queer Jews!" or "shavua tov!" Some gingerly approached us to ask us about our kippot, and to tell us about their first time seeing a queer Jew. It was all the same story: I didn't know there were people that were openly queer and openly Jewish, until I met one.

Honestly, I was worried about showing up in LGBTQIA+ spaces in kippot and a Jewish queer pride flag. I had prepared answers in my head for if anyone questioned me or my identities. But every single interaction we had was positive, and we could see how for some of these individuals, seeing someone be unapologetically queer and unapologetically Jewish gave them permission to allow themselves to exist within those dual identities. For many of us, if we didn't have a queer Jewish role model, we didn't how to exist in Jewish spaces as a queer person. For many of us, that meant stepping away from Jewish spaces.

One of the queer Jews who approached us told us they had never seen someone with a rainbow kippah until they went to their first pride Shabbat service a couple days ago. They didn't know such things existed. Another person told us that growing up, the president of their synagogue was a trans guy, and seeing that someone could be trans and active in Jewish life was what he called a "formative experience." If you go long enough in a space without seeing anyone like you, it's easy to get the impression that people like you don't belong.

Ze'evi and I showed up and refused to compartmentalize our identities. We are queer, trans, and Jewish, and those identities are not dichotomous. What we didn't realize is how much it would impact others to see us being our full Jewish queer selves. As we were leaving our last event of the evening, a person saw us heading out and literally ran over to us. "Can I just say, before you go, you two have been giving me so much life all evening. Can I hug you?" We consented, and got a giant squeeze like we were long lost friends. We thought we were just going to show up for ourselves, but we ended up showing up for everyone who has felt like these two identities of theirs can't coexist.

חג גאווה שמח

Chag ga'avah sameach -- happy pride!

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