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August 18, 1989 - Image 27

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

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celebrates holidays and at-
tends services at the
Reconstructionist Congrega-
tion T'Chiyah. He enjoys
writing Shabbat services that
incorporate the traditional
liturgy with male and female
At the same time, Kaplan
feels "alienated from the
Jewish community" because
he's gay, and spends his free
time volunteering at a crisis
center instead of doing
Jewish communal work.
Don says the purpose of
Simcha is not to replace a
synagogue or temple, but to
give gay and lesbian Jews "a
chance to be with our own
kind!' It also affords them the
opportunity to meet a Jewish
partner, which Don says is im-
portant to many - Simcha
With a board of 10 and four
officers, Simcha is applying
for tax-exempt status and
working on its by-laws. Don is
sure the organization will
continue to attract many
more members.


he deck of the home is on
a lake where the tree
branches sway, quietly in
the night air. A neighbor's
dog barks. A baby stirs. Then,
Standing on the balcony is
the home's owner, Rachel. She
likes animals, traveling and
herbal tea.
A lesbian, Rachel lives with
Laura — tall, beautiful and
accompanied wherever she
goes by the smell of Chanel
No. 5.
Both are natives of Detroit..
Both are Jewish. They met at
a meeting of Simcha, where
Laura serves as a board
Rachel has always known
that she is a lesbian. Like
most other homosexuals, she
first tried to ignore her feel-
ings. She dated men and was
once engaged.
When she was 22, Rachel
decided to look for other les-
bians. She called a gay-
lesbian group at Wayne State
University. She was so anx-
ious she remembers whisper-
ing when someone picked up
the line.
Once free to discover her
sexuality, Rachel came to
terms with her lesbianism; "I
felt it was right in my heart,"
she says.
Next, Rachel told her
parents. For her mother,
Rachel's revelation was
agony. "Where did I go
wrong?" she cried.
Her father, Ira, was more
accepting. .
"There was very little we
could do other than accept it
and support her," he says.
Ira, who was raised in an

Orthodox home, was in his
youth an artist. He worked
with many gay men, whom he
realized "couldn't help being
what they were," he says.
While the first response of
many parents of gays and les-
bians is to seek counseling for
their children, Ira says he
didn't advocate professional
help for Rachel.
"I felt if I put up a lot of
roadblocks — and suggesting
psychiatric help would have
been one of those — we would
have lost her. And that was
the last thing in the world we
Ira is private about his
daughter's sexual preference
only because he fears for her
well-being. "I don't like when
I have to protect her. That the
world is still not accepting is
a crime."
Ira often attends events for
gays and lesbians that Rachel

hope young gays
and lesbians see
me and think, "The
director of
students of this
building is openly
gay and he got a
job, so maybe I
can." We need to
speak out. They
need to see us:

and Laura host in their home.
He likes Laura and is pleas-
ed that she is Jewish. "I hope
she and my daughter will be
very happy together."
Laura was raised in a
Reform Jewish home. She
went to Hebrew and Sunday
school and spent time in
She also dated men and
thought she would one day
get married. In college, she
acknowledged her attraction
to women and had several
relationships with other
Laura has yet to tell her
family she is a lesbian. She
plans to do so soon, with the
help of Rachel and Ira.
She would like to be more
open, but fears the conse-
quences. "I can just imagine
every time I would go into a
meeting, someone would be
thinking 'There's that woman
who sleeps with another
woman: "
Though they cannot be
legally married, Rachel and
Laura feel bound to each
other. They wear rings as a
symbol of their commitment.
They also feel committed to
Judaism; it is important to
both Laura and Rachel that
her partner is Jewish.

Laura and Rachel don't see
a place for themselves in any
local congregation. "My iden-
tity is both Jewish and les-
bian," Laura says. "Simcha is
the only organization accep-
ting of that."

S Andy Berris always
thought he would grow
up and marry a nice
Jewish girl. Today, Berris
lives with a man.
Raised in a Conservative
home, Berris "came out of
the closet" when he was 24.
Several years later he met
David Wilson, with whom
he still lives.
Wilson is not Jewish, but
Berris says it is not an issue
because they do not plan to
raise children.
Although involved with a
woman during his college
years, Berris says that "as
far back as I can remember
I felt different toward men:'
As an undergraduate, he
once drove by a reportedly
gay fraternity "just to get a
glimpse of what gay people
looked like:'
Then, at 24, he went to a
gay bar. "And I was
astonished to see that
everyone looked the same as
I did," he says. "When I
went home to sleep that
night, I remember thinking:
`I'm not different after all: '
Not long after Berris
became involved with
Wilson, he told his mother,
Eileen Berris-Glaser.
Berris-Glaser says that
while not pleased to hear he
was gay, "I told him he is too
fine a person for me not to
accept him however he is:'
After her son's revelation,
Berris-Glaser made
numerous trips to the
library and her local
bookstore for information
about homosexuality. She
decided sexual preference is
not a lifestyle choice, but a
trait with which one is born.
Most of all, Berris-Glaser
is happy that her son is alive
and healthy. That, she says,
is all that matters.
"When I talk to parents of
gays and lesbians, I tell
them it's so wrong to turn
away: these are your
children, right or wrong.
"I lost two sons and I
would take them back in
any way and any form, if on-
ly I could have them back.
Until you lose someone, you
don't know how precious life



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Berris-Glaser prepared
the rest of the family, in-
cluding Sandy Berris's
father, for the news about
Sandy's homosexuality.
"I knew she'd done a good
job," Berris says. "My father



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