May 8, 2012
Gay, Jewish and Imaginative - Maurice Sendak
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A week ago I was in New York for a Jewish leadership conference. It was the first time I’d visited Brooklyn since I was a baby. To visit a place of roots for my family was such a great experience. I felt so connected.
Unfortunately, it seemed as though as soon as I visited and returned to Los Angeles, news of MCA’s death from the Beastie Boys and now, of Maurice Sendak, flowed forth as though a fire hydrant had burst in the city, spilling out the news incessantly.
My condolences to the family and friends of both.
In the midst of this latest news, though, let’s not forget that Maurice Sendak was a Gay, Jewish man.
Yes, I said gay.
The more we share who we are as LGBTQ Jews in media, politics and everyday life, then more people will see just how innovative and positively influential we can be when it comes to the rearing of society’s children.
Children need role models; more so, Jewish children need LGBTQ Jewish role models to come forth and be vocal and proud alongside their straight Jewish counterparts and allies. This sentiment is reflected in the actions propelled by the 2wice Blessed Project.
Look, I wasn’t even Jewish, nor born, in 1963 when “Where the Wild Things Are” came out. It would be another 20 years after its roll out until I was born, another 5 years after that, at least, until I got my first copy of the book and another 47 years after publication for me to become Jewish “officially”.
...and yet, this morning as I rolled over to check my BlackBerry, I, too, was punched in the heart a little to hear that Maurice Sendak had passed.
Seven hours later, I finally am getting a moment to reflect. I stumbled upon the Colbert interview with Sendak a few years back, wherein Sendak proudly clarifies that he is a gay man.
Which means that it took just shy of 50 years since “Where the Wild Things Are” for me to also know that he was a gay man.
Maybe I knew and just overlooked it. Maybe it really was my first time hearing it a few moments ago. But, to know that an author whom I enjoyed for his innovation and outward directness was also a homosexual propels me to strive further to be a visible Queer Jewish person.
Because regardless if I am out or not - which I am -, children evidently will always have LGBTQ Jewish role models, whether or not they realize it themselves almost fifty years after one of their favorite picture books is launched into circulation…
Check out my message to anyone out there who may need an extra boost of support in being who they are:
2wice Blessed: Tera Greene- “I’m quadruple blessed”
Lastly, though it is brilliantly joked about in the video below, it is important that we note the power and influence of Gay/Jewish folk in society. Maurice Sendak, thanks for the imagination!