Gay History 101: The Hannukah Edition

Stephen Fry is an English comedian, actor, writer, presenter, and gay activist. He is a signatory member of the British Jews for Justice for Palestinians organization.

Gad Beck, (1923 –2012) was an anti-Nazi Zionist resistance fighter and the last known gay Jewish survivor of the Holocaust. Beck was a pioneering gay activist and educator in a severely anti-homosexual, repressive post-World War II German society. Perhaps the single most important experience that shaped his life was the wartime effort to rescue his boyfriend. Beck donned a Hitler Youth uniform and entered a deportation center to free his lover, Manfred Lewin, who had declined to separate himself from his family. The Nazis would later deport the entire Lewin family to Auschwitz, where they were murdered. Speaking about his life as a gay Jew, Beck invoked a line frequently cited about homosexuality: “God doesn’t punish for a life of love.” He immigrated to Israel in 1947. After his return to Germany in 1979, the first post-Holocaust head of Berlin’s Jewish community, Heinz Galinski, appointed Beck director of the Jewish Adult Education Center where he organized regular gay singles support meetings . Beck would regularly attend the annual Christopher Street Day Gay Parade in Berlin and wave an Israeli flag. He was survived by his partner of 35 years, Julius Laufer.

Stephen Fry (August 24, 1957) is an English comedian, actor, writer, presenter, and gay activist. Besides working in television, Fry has contributed columns and articles for newspapers and magazines and written four novels and three volumes of autobiography, Moab Is My Washpot, The Fry Chronicles and More Fool Me. He also appears frequently on BBC Radio 4.Fry struggled to keep his homosexuality secret during his teenage years at public school, and by his own account did not engage in sexual activity for 16 years from 1979 until 1995.When asked when he first acknowledged his sexuality, Fry quipped: "I suppose it all began when I came out of the womb. I looked back up at my mother and thought to myself, 'That's the last time I'm going up one of those’. He is a signatory member of the British Jews for Justice for Palestinians organization, which campaigns for Palestinian rights.

Rabbi Allen Bennett, (born Allen Blumenstein in 1946 in Akron, Ohio.) Congregation Sha’ar Zahav, has the distinction of being the first openly gay rabbi. He came out in the New York Times in 1978 by saying“ staying in the closet is a death sentence.”

Norman Elliott Kent. (October 18, 1950) is a criminal defense attorney, publisher, gay activist, and radio talk show host. The founder and publisher of The Express Gay News in 1999, and South Florida Gay News in 2009. He is a life member of the National Academy of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Florida Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, and has appeared on CNN's Crossfire, NBC's Dateline, and Court TV as a political and legal commentator. In 2014, as the Chair of the Board of Directors of NORML, he has been a frequent guest on HLN's Nancy Grace Show, advocating for the legalization of cannabis. As a constitutional rights attorney, he has represented juveniles in a class action against detention centers, and sued to enjoin the State of Florida from illegally spraying paraquat on marijuana fields. In his practice, and his editorials, he is a vigorous defender of the constitutional and first amendment rights of his clients, which also include radio stations, newspapers, and prominent talk show hosts.

JUNE 2014, Flamboyant First as Jewish Boat Floats in Amsterdam 19TH Gay Pride Canal Fest. Its passengers included various celebrities, a rabbi and revelers in biblically themed costumes. The Jewish boat, at Amsterdam’s gay pride parade, stood out for more than just its riders. Following a west-to-east course along the Dutch capital’s Prinsengracht canal, along with dozens of similarly flamboyant vessels, the Jewish boat was the only one in the parade isolated by police. Two boats with three officers each escorted the barge, while two additional agents sailed aboard the Jewish boat itself. “We have planned this just to show that we [gay Jews] exist as a community and we are here to stand up for our rights to live as equals without threats by those who want to see Jews or gays silent or dead,” said Gideon Querido van Frank, the Jewish boat’s chief organizer, who boarded the boat wearing a Bronze Age soldier outfit laced with glitter.

If you want to learn more about your gay heritage and those who paved the way, through activism, sacrifice, courage, civil disobedience to give us a better and freer life you can visit The Stonewall Museum & Archives. We should all know who our gay heroes are and be thankful for what they did on our behalf.

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