Indy Pride Interfaith Service 2018


“As someone who is both gay and Jewish 2016 through 2018 has been hard. We have seen a steep rise in antisemitism & hate-related attacks (something I know that our brothers & sisters in the colored and Islamic communities have also experienced).

I wake up every day to google notifications, specifically about the KKK, hate crimes, homophobia, and antisemitism. This is because we are living in a time where hate has found the space to flare up and catch like wildfire.

I hear all the time how far LGBTQ+ community rights has progressed. And I do believe we have but we have to look at what our community is facing: in the summer of 2016 the pulse nightclub shooting happened which until recently was the deadliest mass shooting in America. And Last week a gay couple in Denver were stabbed in the back and neck for simply holding hands. The LGBTQ+ community is not safe.

This is why I am pushing the Jewish community to take a stand against LGBTQ+ hate and violence. I am honored to be given support for this from my bosses, board of directors, and community at the Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council.

When I was asked to speak today everyone told me I was the obvious choice since I am the biggest LGBTQ+ advocate in the community they know. While I am thankful people see me as that I have to be honest I am not… I am here today to tell everyone in this room about the two biggest advocates I know in the Jewish community Annette Siegel Gross & Patti Freeman Dorson. (please stand up)

Unlike me they do not identify on the queer spectrum. They never had to become allies and when their sons came out they didn’t have to support them (many families don’t). They chose to. What is amazing is if you ask both of them why… They don’t see it as a choice. They feel an obligation. Not only as mothers of gay sons but because they see it has their duty as Jews.

When I spoke to both of them earlier this week on the phone they both brought up the Jewish principal of inviting the stranger into our homes. This is central to the faith of Judaism. Judaism is also about living the torah in your daily life. By being allies Annette & Patti are living by the torah. Whether they prayer to Jerusalem three times a day or not they are living a Jewish & sacred life.

As a queer person I thank you both beyond anything you will ever know. You have paved the way for me and thousands of other to enjoy a happy & fulfilling life. Whether it was organizing rallies that attracted 3000+ people or understanding the power of being welcoming; you both have made it so there is space for me to live my truth. My hope is that I can learn and work with you both to progress the Jewish community and Indianapolis forward. We all need more women like you in our lives.

I will leave you with my favorite quote from the Talmud “to save a life is as if you saved the world”. We cannot calculate this but I can tell you that Annette & Patti have both saved the world many times over by being advocates & allies to the LGBTQ+ community. I think this year when we celebrate Pride we shouldn’t just celebrate ourselves but also those who choose to stand with us.