Hello Niv readers and happy Pride!! By way of introduction, Pride Month always occurs during June to commemorate the Stonewall riots in New York, which took place in June 1969. Now, Pride has marches and movements all over the world with the most visible event being the parade. For obvious reasons the Pride Parade will not be happening this year, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t celebrate! There is so much content to watch and take part in online, so let’s dig in.
Pride Toronto is a not-for-profit organization, and it is offering digital programming every single day of June. Its festival programming is “centred around community, education, and of course, celebration”, so click here to see the daily calendar of events. There’s a range of events from lighter fare, like trivia or cabaret, to more substantial material like human rights panels and anti-oppression workshops. The most noteworthy event is the annual Pride Parade, which will mark 40 years of Pride in Toronto! The digital parade will honour the history of Pride, highlight Toronto talent, and aim to foster community.
The Toronto Jewish Film Festival just wrapped up, but I have good news if you missed it! J-Flix, the Toronto Jewish Film Foundation’s free online archive of past films screened at the festival, has a whole playlist of LGBTQ+ content. Overwhelmed by all the choices? Here’s an article from Kultura, a network of modern Jewish Arts, Culture and Heritage organizations in Toronto, offering a rundown of each curated pick to help you narrow down the list.
An interesting fact from the article regarding the film Gay Days: “In 1985, there were three openly gay people in Israel. By 1998, there were 3,000.”
Check out Keshet for all things Jewish, LGBTQ+, and family-oriented—much of the programming is directed towards teens and young adults. Keshet is an American organization but the online offerings provide access to Canadians. Their website features its own calendar of events and a community calendar cataloguing events happening at various synagogues and organizations across the U.S. Browse events like the Community Pride Seder (free), online film screenings, and an online conference on sex and spirituality in diverse religious communities.
One event in particular I want to highlight is Pride Panel 2021: a world of connections to LGBTQ, Jewish Pride. Panelists from LGBTQ Jewish organizations in the U.S., the UK, Mexico City and South Africa will speak to “current successes and challenges in the areas they work, reflect on LGBTQ inclusion in Jewish life around the world, and share their hopes for the future of the Jewish community.” This free panel is scheduled for June 23, 2021 at 12 p.m. EST.
Miles Nadal JCC
This next event is hosted by downtown Toronto’s very own LBGTQ+ at the J, a group that was founded through the Miles Nadal JCC. LGBTQ+ at the J has year-round programming and focuses on social events, advocacy and education. They, “aspire to be a resource, safer space and home for all LGBTQ+ Jews across the spectrum of identities and affiliations”, and they regularly partner with Jewish organizations in Toronto to make their spaces and services more inclusive for LGBTQ+ Jews. This is a great organization to check out any time of year! Be sure to sign up for their upcoming event A Queer Dinner Party: Around the Shabbat Table happening on Friday June 18th from 7-8:30 p.m. This dinner party will feature music, poetry and a Shabbat-themed celebration of all things Pride.
MNJCC also has a gallery space, which has transitioned into a virtual gallery during the pandemic. This month, you can check out the free online art in queer at the root at the Virtual Gallery at the J. The exhibition features the work of 18 Jewish, queer and/or trans artists across North America in collaboration with Jewish Queer Trans Vancouver. Be sure to check out the hand embroidered piece of Timothée Chalamet as Elio in Call Me By Your Name— true art.
Lastly, I want to mention some queer Jewish artists and activists who are doing great work in the online space: Chella Man, a trans Deaf actor and artist; Adam Eli, a gay writer and community organizer (I like to follow both on Instagram); Abby Stein, an ordained rabbi and trans writer; and Michael W. Twitty, an author and culinary historian.
Want even more queer Jews in your Insta feed? Here’s a fabulous listicle of 13 Jewish LGBTQ Activists to Follow on Social Media from Kveller—their list even overlaps with mine quite a bit!
Editor’s note: other people to follow are Jennifer E. Crawford, winner of Masterchef Canada and maker of otherworldly desserts; Jordan Daniels, for uplifting stories; Jordan Firstman,for impressions and sassy observations; Jake Cohen, because every single dish looks delicious; Hari Nef, for the glitz, and Rena Yehuda Newman for some heartfelt comics.
Thanks for tuning in and happy Pride!
Lara Bulger has a deep-rooted commitment to the arts. With a Bachelor’s degree in Music with minors in Film and English, plus a Master’s Degree in Arts Leadership, she is passionate about the capacity of art to bring about social change. Lara is currently pursuing her PhD in Cultural Studies at Queen’s University, focusing on documentary film and its social, political and cultural impacts.