Posted by Tera Greene
Before the past weekend began, I was sent a message in my inbox that made me perk up and want to help out. Los Angeles is a sprawling city, and CicLAvia is a project that aims to open seven miles of streets to bikes, pedestrians, dogs, families and strollers, by closing them to cars on
Sunday, September 12
Sunday, October 10, 2010 (10/10/10). If you live in Los Angeles, tell your friends and join the fun this fall! Even if you don’t live in Los Angeles, still consider supporting this cause to help our community play together better, even if only for a day.
See the video my friend Marie made and donate to the cause here:
This project will only be funded if at least $7,000 is pledged by Sunday Aug 15, 2:34pm EDT. Pledges begin at a dollar.
CicLAvia’s profile on Kickstarter
Have a meaningful week and thank you!
Thanks to everyone who donated a little bit to help make a big difference in this project’s outcome. As you can see, this idea raised 118% of it’s goal, so Ciclavia is DEFINITELY happening! Yay! Please save the NEW date: 10.10.10 and share this information with your friends. I mean, there’s nothing like closing down streets for pedestrians, street art, bicycling, etc, for 5 hours. You can get all the current information about this event by going to the website’s action page!
Tera “Nova Jade* Greene is active, artsy and into helping fund cool projects. She can be contacted via her personal website.
2.17.13 at 11:04 am | Registration for the May 2013 trip is NOW OPEN!. . .
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7.23.10 at 12:09 pm | "our obligation [is] to treat human beings with. . . (31)
7.17.12 at 10:05 pm | Each and every day, with open eyes, we can. . . (7)
1.24.12 at 1:20 am | The 24th National Conference on LGBT Equality:. . . (6)
June 28, 2010 | 4:55 am
Posted by Maital Guttman
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
USSF “Social Justice” Forum Bans Advocate for Middle East Gay Community
Intolerance for Israel Trumps Human Rights Commitments, Causes Harassment of Scheduled Speaker
and Sudden Cancellation of Educational LGBT Workshop
[Los Angeles—June 23] Today, StandWithUs, (SWU) was suddenly banned from presenting a Gay Rights workshop at the international US Social Forum (USSF) conference being held in Detroit, Michigan, from June 22 to June 26.
USSF notified SWU on Tuesday, just two days before SWU was scheduled to present its “LGBTQI Liberation in the Middle East” session.
“The cancellation letter claimed that we had ‘masked the true nature’ of the workshop and were really trying to ‘defend Israel,’ but this is patently false,” according to SWU Midwest Director Brett Cohen, an expert on gay issues in the Middle East who was approved by USSF to lead the session. “We gave them our program plan and background about our organization, and website information months ago. In all that time, the conference organizers never asked for more information.” Cohen has been harassed for several weeks by USSF participants who emailed him intimidating messages with thinly veiled threats that violence might break out at his session. The organizers of the USSF were unwilling to offer security at the workshop, and warned Cohen, “Security is important to the US Social Forum. At the same time, the social forum is an open space,” implying that Cohen’s physical safety might be at risk.
In their message to the forum, the organizers stated that they cannot, “allow the workshop to proceed uncontested.”
“The real tragedy is that once again, the voice of the persecuted Middle Eastern LGBTQI community is being silenced. They face murderous persecution and discrimination. In Iran, gay men are forced to undergo sex change operations, or face execution. Across the Middle East, gays are murdered by their own families in ‘honor killings.’ They face active discrimination and often, legal punishment for the ‘crime’ of being gay. We wanted to highlight their plight using videos and documents produced by LGBT rights organization members who live in hiding for fear of death in every country in the region except Israel. Our goal was to shed light on their plight and connect conference participants to these important organizations so that they could offer assistance and shed light on this viciously persecuted minority. I thought building these coalitions was the purpose of this conference,” said Cohen.
“Apparently, USSF was so afraid that participants might indirectly learn that Israel has an outstanding record on LGBT issues and is a refuge for persecuted gays in the Middle East that they chose to turn their backs on the cries for help from this suffering minority across the region. This was the only workshop about the plight of gays in the Middle East, but the organizers’ unfortunate prejudice against Israel trumped their commitment to human rights. And they tried to ‘shoot the messenger’ by harassing and intimidating Brett Cohen, and to make sure the message for much needed help was never heard,” said SWU CEO Roz Rothstein.
SWU has been committed to education about LGBT suffering in the Middle East. The organization has had projects such as iPride 2009, which connected non-Jewish gay leaders from around the world with the annual Tel Aviv Pride event and introduced them to gay Israeli politicians and to many different gay rights organizations with offices in Israel. SWU’s campus advocacy programs have always included education about gay issues in the Middle East.
“The USSF response highlights once again how anti-Israel prejudice and ignorance hijacks and perverts human rights values, and clouds the judgment of those who claim to be human rights activists. They refuse to acknowledge Israel’s many efforts to find a path to peaceful co-existence. In effect, they end up supporting radical groups and intolerant governments that make a mockery of all their purported ideals. They have shown that they are so focused on hating Israel that they cannot focus on standing up for the people at risk like those in the LGBTQI community who suffer under the oppressive regimes. When USSF and other activists take these positions, they don’t seem to be proponents of human rights. Instead, they are hypocritical or actually enemies of human rights and of peaceful co-existence. The leaders of the USSF have shamefully silenced the suffering of Middle East gays because of their own hateful intolerance. Anti-Israel bigotry is alive and well at the USSF. Such bigotry is a grave threat to human rights values everywhere when obsessive focus on Israel trumps all else.” concluded Rothstein.
StandWithUs (SWU) is a nine year-old, international, non-profit Israel education organization that ensures that Israel’s side of the story is told on campuses, community, libraries, schools and in the media. SWU hosts speakers, programs and conferences in cities around the world, takes missions to Israel, offers website resources and creates brochures and materials about Israel in a variety of languages and on a variety of topics, that are distributed globally.
www.standwithus.com and www.standwithuscampus.com and www.standwithus.co.il.
June 24, 2010 | 4:15 pm
Posted by Lia Mandelbaum
On August 23rd, 2007, I boarded a plane heading for Los Angeles in hopes of creating a new life. I had been struggling with depression for several years, and finally believed that I had hit an emotional bottom. I came to L.A seeking recovery and a new way of life at Beit T’Shuvah, the Jewish residential treatment center that I now work for. It was time to get real with myself, something that I hadn’t been for more than ten years. I was completely disconnected from myself and everyone around me, and did not know who I really was anymore. I had created so many masks to hide behind, unable to reveal my biggest secret, that I am a gay woman. I had known that I had feelings towards women from a very young age. The first time I admitted my feelings to my mom, I was five years old. I explained to her that I had feelings for my female preschool teacher, “the same way a husband has for a wife.” By the time I reached eighth grade, I had begun to create masks to conceal my true identity.
In my recovery, I have come to realize that I had created all these masks out of my own fear of judgment from others. I believed that if people were to know the truth about who I was, those I loved and trusted would disapprove or stop loving me. Ultimately, I came to the realization that my feelings were those which society had placed in my head, and I was projecting my own feelings onto those around me. I had hidden my sexuality and had become my own harshest critic and biggest oppressor.
I want to take a moment to express the overwhelming gratitude that I have for my life today, I am finally free. As someone who has gone to some very dark places, and spent several years hiding who I was, the fact that I now desire to be completely transparent in writing this blog, is absolutely profound for me. I feel such a tremendous sense of freedom in being able to write my truth. This blog is a testimony of my recovery.
In addition to Beit T’Shuvah being instrumental in my recovery, there is an organization called JQ International, a space for GLBT Jews, which has taken on a meaningful role in my recovery. Last year, I went to Beth Chayim Chadashim’s annual brunch fundraiser. It was there that I met Asher Gellis, Executive director of JQ, and my world opened up. I was invited to volunteer at Single De Mayo, LA’s largest single ladies event, which has been produced by JQ for the past two years. I had never in my life been surrounded by that many proud gay and bisexual women, and I had an amazing time. I felt like I was part of something much bigger than myself, and realized there were so many women out there just like me. I started going to their Shabbat Potlucks, and getting involved with a solid group of young people that I truly respected and was thrilled to have become a part my life. After I started getting involved with JQ, I invited Asher Gellis and Naomi Goldberg to Beit T’Shuvah where they made a brilliant presentation training our counselors and therapists how to create a safe space for the GLBT residents. It was wonderful to see how our staff and volunteers embraced their presentation.
With all that being said, I cannot say that I never struggle. I continue to wrestle with my old mindset, and the ideas placed on me by society. A lot of my old fears still come up, but through contrary action, I continue to move forward. The road towards authenticity is not easy, but I have learned that pain is the touchstone of all spiritual growth. If I can use my experience to help another young woman who is struggling, it will have made my whole journey worth it.
June 23, 2010 | 11:11 pm
Posted by Tera Greene
10 years ago, I stood before my fellow graduating classmates of the year 2000 and delivered another speech as I’d done at every graduation prior. Though I think my best commencement participation was in the 6th grade when I debuted my “Melody Americana” - wherein I played the National Anthem, The Flight of the Bumble Bee (abridged), and a transposed version of the theme song from Jeopardy on my flute, shoulder pads and all - my high school graduation felt different. I felt like I wasn’t just going on to another year of school, but heading toward a future that would solidify only with my eagerness to see it unfold.
Now that I am about to reconvene with those “kids” from ten years ago, I can’t help to be reflective. By sitting back and rethinking just how much I’ve accomplished in ten years, I am truly humbled. Though I am 26 and didn’t reach my goal of billionaire status at this age, and I completely did not pursue marine biology and medicine as a profession, I have so much to be thankful for, especially without having had an agent or manager in my profession of the Arts and Entertainment. As a DJ, I’ve headlined for and played on stage with Grammy and Emmy-award winning talent. I’ve composed an original hour-long collection of songs for a dance opera. Not to mention I have shot my own music videos as a singer-songwriter with my acoustic guitar, I have remixed music for Israel’s birthday, and I have produced and been a music supervisor on so many projects. I have also performed as a poet and performance artist and have been invited to speak to classes from K through College. I have even strutted on catwalks in New York and Los Angeles (heels and no heels). I’ve been on MTV with a mohawk, singing Whitney Houston’s “Greatest Love of All” in perfect pitch, been on CNN proudly voicing my rights to be queer and more recently, I have been on Entertainment Tonight interviewing a high-profile celebrity with the Michael Jackson Tribute Portrait project.
Through it all, there’s film. I should re-phrase… there are “movies”. I love TV, sitcoms and dramas alike, but movies - oh, sweet flicks - they have shaped me over the last ten years and longer. So, as I reflect this summer, I will also be taking time to enjoy some movies, especially at this year’s Outfest Film Festival. As a 6th season Senior Volunteer in the Outfest family of festivals, I have worked hard over the years serving on the host committees, helping with outreach, performing on stage and most-notably, as a licensed bartender. I even screened my own comedic short at Outfest in 2009. This year, though, I am making a point to actually see flicks. Here’s what I’ll be watching, along with a few other films I recommend that have nothing to do with the Outfest programming. Full film guide can be seen here.
(I didn’t realize it, but the majority of the themes deal with high school, coming of age or schooling in the training sense. Interesting.)
√ The Lottery (A film by Madeleine Sackler) - Tagline: “You Could Win An Education”. My only connection to Harlem is that I danced at the Dance Theatre of Harlem back in the day; and unlike the students in this film, I’ve always had the opportunity for the best education and the best and highest coursework. But, the reality is that a lot of students don’t have bright opportunities, and enough is enough already. Great film to see. I just caught it in LA, but it’s next stops are in DC June 25-July 1 and then in Denver July 9- 16. Get involved!
If you’re not in Denver those dates in July, then you must be attending the 28th Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Film Festival July 8th - 18th (chai!), right?
√ July 10th - A Conversation with Jane Lynch - DGA 1 - 130 PM. GLEE. High School. Totally. And Ms. Lynch will be receiving the 14th Annual Outfest Achievement Award this year. I hope she wears a track suit.
√ July 11th - A Small Act (Dir/Scr: Jennifer Arnold, USA) - DGA 2 - 1130 AM. FREE. A story of a Holocaust survivor who anonymously gave $15 to sponsor a little boy in Kenya… who then went on to graduate from Harvard and became a human rights lawyer. Enough said.
√ July 11th - Clueless (Dir/Scr: Amy Heckerling) - DGA 2 - 445 PM. Part of the Legacy Screening Series. I can write on and on about why Clueless is one of my favorites of all time, but let’s just say my love for the tailored and flamboyant look has a lot to do with watching D, a bonafide BAP, and Cher, a bonafide JAP, over and over and over…
√ July 11th - Fit (Dir/Scr: Rikki Beadle-Blair, UK) - DGA 1 - 7 PM. Teens in a Drama and Dance class and how they deal with their identity through it all.
√ July 13th - Gay Days (Hazman Havarod) (Dir/Scr: Yair Qedar, Israel) - Laemmle Sunset 5 - 715 PM. A very political look at the cultural revolution of Israel’s gay community as it came of age in the 1980s.
√ July 14th - A Marine Story (Dir/Scr: Ned Farr, USA) - DGA 1 - 7 PM. Women Marines. Boot camp. I mean, if you saw the Gymnast, then you know this should be fun.
There’s also a film on the circuit called Eyes Wide Open (original title Einayim Petukhoth), though it is not a part of Outfest this year (but Cannes ain’t half bad).
Here’s to 10 years of rocking out. Where will I be in the next 10 years? I’ll be even more awesome, with a partner by my side and at least one lil’ wee babe in a front pouch whom we’ll love so dearly. For now, I’ll just focus on being 26 years of age and furthering my magical career.
As a little treat, here’s the the comedic short I co-produced and screened at Outfest last year, called Queerer Than Thou. To date, it has queerly screened at over 50 major and independent film festivals and college campuses around the world, including at the Hammer Museum in Westwood, CA, and has won one audience award. Enjoy the show!
June 18, 2010 | 3:49 pm
Posted by Naomi Goldberg
Did you know that in 29 states you can be fired just for being gay, lesbian, or bisexual? (Click here to see what your state says). And if you’re transgender, you can be fired in 38 states?
Surprising, right!?!?! Laws prohibiting such discrimination in the workplace have been in place for decades for racial and ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, and women. And yet, simply for having a photo on your desk of you and your spouse, you can be fired in the majority of states.
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2009 has been introduced in the House and Senate, which would make it illegal to discrimination against someone on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in the employment context. This is overdue. A recent study found that complaints of discrimination based on sexual orientation filed by employees in states with laws protecting such employees are filed at similar rates to those filed by women alleging sex discrimination. Yeah, you heard that right – gay, lesbian, and bisexual people file complaints that the same rate as women. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2009 has fallen victim to our inefficient and paralyzed Congress, so it hasn’t been voted on. President Obama, meanwhile, has said that he would sign the bill if it reached his desk.
And yet, there is good news, especially for those of us who work in the Jewish community. Today, one of the leading funders of Jewish organizations, the Schusterman Family Foundation made a striking pronouncement. Lynn Schusterman, the chief of the Foundation, stated “We will only consider funding organizations that have non-discrimination policies covering both sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.” For more on her statement, check out this op-ed in today’s JTA.
Wow. You heard that correctly, one of the largest contributors to Jewish organizations, funding things from Birthright to Hillel to BBYO, has made nondiscrimination policies a requirement to receive funding. This is a huge step forward in the Jewish community in terms of making it a priority that all people are treated equally in the workplace.
June 17, 2010 | 11:46 am
Posted by Janelle Eagle
As a freelance filmmaker, photographer, and producer, I never know where my next gig is going to come from. I was pleasantly surprised and very grateful when I was recently hired by the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles for a temporary position as the producer of what they referred to as “an anti-hunger event.” I walked into the position having a pretty limited knowledge of hunger issues in Los Angeles, but my professional experience and Virgo-style organizational skills ended up being a great match for such an incredible project.
The Jewish Federation has been working for sometime in Los Angeles to combat the hunger epidemic that plagues our city. In Los Angeles, 1 in 4 children in a household is struggling with hunger. Many have no access to fresh produce and are surrounded by an abundance of fast food. All of this I learned while on the job… I was completely oblivious before. How did I not know that it was such a rampant problem in my very own proverbial back yard?
What started as an unformed idea became 19 different events happening simultaneously on one day, June 13, all around Los Angeles. The Jewish Federation chose the date (6/13) because there are 613 mitzvot or commandments in the Torah. The goal was to have 613 individual acts to end hunger be completed as a community on June 13th. They dubbed this, the “613 Community Challenge.”
After weeks of planning, I am incredibly proud of the team that I worked with. This past Sunday:
- We fed battered and bruised women and children at the Downtown Women’s Center.
- We gleaned produce from 5 farmer’s markets, resulting in a donation of over 2000 pounds of fresh produce to 4 needy charities serving the homeless.
- We painted murals at Tomchei Shabbos, a facility used to provide services to vulnerable Orthodox Jews.
- We planted gardens in East LA and the Florence/Firestone Community of South Central.
- We signed postcards to Senators Boxer & Feinstein encouraging them to renew the Child Nutrition Act
I was particularly proud of the fact that many of the Federation’s LGBT employees were active in creating and producing these events. One of the events, called Food on Foot, actually took place at the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center. This fantastic integration of community is exactly the vision that so many of us within the LGBTQ Jewish Community have. We want to be part of the greater Jewish Community in a meaningful way. What a joy to stand side by side as a community to help end hunger in Los Angeles.
Here’s a video about the day, specifically highlighting the event that took place at the LA Gay & Lesbian Center!
June 15, 2010 | 5:28 pm
Posted by Naomi Goldberg
Next week, over 100 local and national Jewish lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) organizations are getting together for the first time. And where, else, but in Berkeley! The 2010 LGBT Jewish Movement-Building Convening is the first meeting of its kind. And part of what makes it so unique is that it is being funded by some of the biggest, mainstream Jewish funders in the United States – the Schusterman Foundation, the Goldman Fund, and the Haas Fund– best known for funding Hillel, Birthright, Moishe House, the Foundation for Jewish Camping, and others.
So, what gives? Well, it appears that there are three national Jewish LGBT organizations whose missions focus on Jewish LGBT people – Keshet, Jewish Mosaic, and Nehirim. There has been no real coordination of efforts or even decisions about goals or priorities for the Jewish LGBT movement. In part, each of these organizations started with more regional foci and have recently grown and expanded to include more national programs. Add to the mix local Jewish LGBT temples, groups, and organizations, and you end up with a confusing and often inefficient network of organizations. Even from Los Angeles, where I call home, there are representatives from EIGHT organizations attending the Convening. Lots of organizations want to help temples and synagogues be more inclusive. Lots of organizations want to help the Conservative and Reform movements navigate the waters of LGBT inclusion in liturgy, life cycle events, and stances on hot button political issues. In some ways, it is remarkable that in the 32 years since Harvey Milk, a Jewish gay man living in San Francisco, was killed for being gay and 38 years since the first temple for lesbian and gay Jews, Beth Chayim Chadashim, opened its doors, the Jewish community has so many organizations doing this kind of work.
On the agenda for the Convening are sessions examining current activities, a discussion of issues and priorities, meetings with funders, and opportunities to learn from the success (and failure) of other faith communities.
One can only hope that leaders of over one hundred organization attending the Convening will return to Los Angeles and their own communities renewed, re-centered, and ready to make change happen. With limited funding dollars, limited time, and lots of need for change, it serves the Jewish Community well to have this Convening be productive and successful.
June 12, 2010 | 7:48 pm
Posted by Janelle Eagle
Last night I had 26 people join me for shabbat dinner. Not just any Shabbat… but a Transgender Shabbat. Not that Shabbat itself was trans (perhaps we welcomed a Sabbath Husband?), but we specifically invited the transgender community and their friends to join JQ International’s Trans Inclusion Committee for a potluck and icebreaker discussion of the intersection between Judaism and gender identity.
Rabbi Julie Pelc-Adler led the group in a discussion about terms for gender diversity used in classical Jewish texts including:
Zachar: This term is derived from the word for a pointy sword and refers to a phallus. It is usually translated as “male” in English.
Nekevah: This term is derived from the word for a crevice and probably refers to a vaginal opening. It is usually translated as “female” in English.
Angrogynos: A person who has both “male” and “female” sexual characteristics. 149 references (WOW!!!!) in Mishna and Talmud (1st-8th Centuries CE); 350 in classical midrash and Jewish law codes (2nd-16th Centuries CE).
Tumtum: A person whose sexual characteristics are indeterminate or obscured. 181 references in Mishna and Talmud; 335 in classical midrash and Jewish law codes.
All of these references within the text seemed to liberate a room full of people that have been told repeatedly that their identity was an obstacle for connection and home within the Jewish religion. The very fact that multiple Jewish authority figures consider the first human creation of G-d to be one of mixed or indeterminate gender seemed to show us all that in fact, the transgender Jew might have been THE first Jew. How fantastic!!! We were each asked to then by Trans Inclusion Committee member Kadin Henningsen to share “How does the idea that you were specifically created by G-d as you are (with both male and female characteristics) make you feel?”
As we dined together we shared together. A common theme of “freedom” was tied to many of our answers- that it was liberating to think that it wasn’t an accident. That straight, gay, trans, and unidentified individuals in the room all commonly struggle with the roles that others have assigned us. And most heartwarming for me- was that this discussion made many of us feel a certain amount of pride that it was actually within a religious space that we felt this liberation.
It was such an honor to host these amazing people in my home. It was a joy to have the parents of one of our Trans Inclusion Committee member’s join us and lead the blessing over the challah as a family. I felt such pride in JQ International for reaching out to the transgender community and inviting them and their friends/family to celebrate together. This type of interconnected, all-are-welcome, celebratory environment is exactly what I think a Friday night should be. It was what Shabbat should be. It is what Judaism should be.
And for me, last night was what Judaism is.