Celebrating Pride in a World So Far From Whole

Posted on: Tuesday June 8, 2021

By Rabbi Micah Buck-Yael

Note: This blog post was featured as part of our #HeshbonHodesh: Tamuz monthly newsletter. 

The first time that I went to a Pride celebration, I was so nervous, so excited, and not at all sure how it would go. I was a teenager, newly out to myself and a small number of close friends, and had never been around such a large crowd of LGBTQ folks and allies. As I watched the parade go by and wandered through the festival, it was thrilling to see the excitement and celebration in the air, encounter people who expressed a rainbow of genders, and share the slightly wild feeling of togetherness with strangers. For me as a young person, it meant a lot. 

In many ways, when I look back on that experience, I am struck by how much is different now. Back then, I knew so few adults who were queer, trans, and out. I saw my Jewish community fighting over the dignity and legitimacy of people like me, and knew that there was a long fight ahead for LGBTQ people to navigate the world with a basic sense of dignity.

And in other ways, when I look back on that moment, I am struck by how much work still needs to be done. At this moment in time, we are battling a slew of state-level laws targeting transgender youth, restricting access to lifesaving healthcare, barring transgender youth from sports, and doing untold harm. We still see LGBTQ people - and particularly transgender people, and most particularly LGBTQ people of color - targeted for bullying and harassment. 75% of transgender youth report that they feel unsafe at school. LGBTQ youth are vastly overrepresented among homeless youth, and the leading cause of homelessness among LGBTQ youth is rejection by their families. LGBTQ adults still face bias and discrimination in the workplace, healthcare, religious communities, and many other facets of life. 

So how can we talk about Pride as a celebration? What is the point of the parades (or virtual parties, car parades, etc.), flags, and glitter in the face of a world that is so far from whole? 

In some ways, I can think of nothing more holy - or more Jewish - than celebrating Pride at a time like this. It is more important than ever to reaffirm to ourselves and to LGBTQ youth that our identities are beautiful and worthy of celebration. It is more important than ever to build community and make space for the fierce and powerful joy that we can experience when we are together. It is more important than ever to recognize the powerful advocacy that has brought us this for, and to energize ourselves for the work that is still ahead.
 

Read the other blog posts in this series:

Headshot

Rabbi Micah Buck-Yael (he/him or they/them) serves as Keshet's Director of Education and Training. Before Keshet, Micah served as the Coordinator of Community Chaplaincy with Jewish Family Services of St Louis, providing spiritual care for individuals throughout the St. Louis community. Micah has a BA in Islamic and Near Eastern Studies from Washington University in St Louis and Rabbinic ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary. Micah enjoys cooking and baking, and lives in St. Louis with his wife Aviva, four children, and assorted pets.