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August 18, 1989 - Image 24

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-08-18

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Detroit area gay and lesbian Jews
want to find their place
in the Jewish community.


Features Editor

e Colo rs

Sandy Berris: "If people get to know me first as an individual, then when they learn that I'm gay, they understand that is just another part of
who I am."




achel, a 42-year-old les-
bian in Detroit, is
bright, friendly and
gracious. And terrified.
She begs for anonymity,
fearful that, if identi-
fied, she would be fired
from her job.

Marc Kaplan and Rachel are two
of an estimated 1 million homosexual
Jews worldwide. They represent the
extremes of how gay and lesbian Jews
in the Detroit area deal with their
sexuality. Some would like to see a
gay-lesbian synagogue in Detroit.
Others would prefer gay-oriented pro-
gramming within mainstream
synagogues and temples.
All agree that they want to find
their place in the Jewish community,
and that they want to be accepted as
they are.
Most Jewish lesbians and gays
believe the Jewish community knows
little of them — who they are, how
"normal" their lives are in some
respects, how different in others.
"I get up in the morning. I go to
work. I cook dinner. I pay bills," a
Jewish lesbian says. "I'm just like
everyone else. I wish people
understood that."
Yet the lives of gays and lesbians
are noticeably different from those of
most heterosexuals. When they open-
ly identify themselves as homosexual,
they face any number of problems,
they say.
"I've been a high school teacher
for more than 12 years," one local
Jewish man says. "I'm a good teacher;
the kids and parents like me. Imagine
if people found out I was gay. I'm sure
the school would suddenly find some
reason to let me go, even though my
sexuality has nothing to do with my
job capability. My career would be
Others cite cases in which gays
and lesbians open about their sexual
preference have returned home to find
hate slogans spray painted across
their windows and doors. Some have
been beaten or killed.
Their rights are limited. They
cannot be legally married, and
therefore cannot take advantage of in-
surance and tax benefits afforded
most couples. They may not be listed
as dependent family members on in-
surance policies. Often, openly gay
and lesbian couples may have trouble
adopting children. Most organizations
will not consider them a married cou-
ple for family memberships.
Still another hurdle exists for
Jewish gays and lesbians: finding

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