A network of LGBT Jewish D.C. groups are joining forces for “Oh Gaydel, Gaydel, Gaydel! 2016’s Queery Chanukah Happy Hour” on Thursday, Dec. 22 from 6-9 p.m. at Number Nine (1435 P St., N.W.).
Among them are GLOE (GLBTQ Outreach & Engagement at the J), Bet Mishpachah, Gayyim, Nice Jewish Boys D.C. and Nice Jewish Girls.
Three years ago Ben Rosenbaum volunteered to chair Nice Jewish Boys and says, “It has been a blast creating a fun and welcoming community for gay Jews and our admirers or, as we sometimes call them, bagel chasers.”
The Boys are a social group for gay, bi and trans Jews in their 20s and 30s. For nearly a decade, the group has held monthly happy hours, Shabbat dinners, an annual weekend retreat and various holiday celebrations. Find the group on Facebook for details about its events.
Rosenbaum, a 33-year-old senior legislative staffer to Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.), came to Washington nearly a decade ago to work in policy. A native of Pensacola, Fla., he is single and lives in Shaw.
Rosenbaum enjoys binge watching TV shows, taking walks, travel, theater, hiking and sports such as playing kickball with his Stonewall Kickball team, the Matzo Balls.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I started coming out just after college telling my best friend since birth. It was a process over the next few years with family members, coworkers and friends. My dad was the last person I came out to. He’s older and I think it is still hard for him to find the words to talk with me about this aspect of my life.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
As a gay Jew who openly serves a member of Congress, it’s hard to think of anyone but Frank Kameny. Fired from a federal job in the 1950s when it was discovered he was gay, he spent the rest of his long life fighting for LGBT quality so I could live and work openly.
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
Bear Happy Hour at Town is always a fun way to kick off the weekend with friends. And who doesn’t love a good deal?! Besides that, my favorite night out is the monthly Nice Jewish Boys happy hour at Number 9.
Describe your dream wedding.
Basically a repeat of my Bar Mitzvah (circa 1996) but with a live band, ‘80s and ‘90s hip-hop and pop music playing deep into the night, plenty of alcohol and food trucks supplying some midnight snacks to refuel after a long night of dancing.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
Urban planning and transportation. It’s an area that I concentrate on at work, and having lived in D.C. nearly a decade now it’s fascinating to see how the city is changing and adapting to that change.
What historical outcome would you change?
Trump winning the presidency. It would certainly make my job more pleasant.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
In 2009, I snagged a ticket to the Neighborhood Inaugural Ball where the Obamas had their first dance after the president’s swearing in. Listening to Beyoncé serenade the first couple with Etta James’ “At Last” marked such a cultural shift for the country.
On what do you insist?
Humility. This town has a lot of people working in important jobs and sometimes that can go to one’s head.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
Who wore it best?? With side-by-side pictures of Garrett Clayton in “Hairspray Live!” and Aaron Tveit in “Grease Live!” both in short gym shorts. Aaron won hands down.
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“You Can Never Sing Too Loud In The Shower: the Ben Rosenbaum Story Part I”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
Not a damn thing.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
My Judaism plays an enormous role in my life. Three-thousand years of questioning our place in the universe, tradition and survival provides a pretty good guidebook for the choices we make in life, how we treat one another and the kind of legacy we want to leave behind. Before Mama Ru coined the phrase, “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else?” 2,000 years ago, Rabbi Hillel asked, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me?” Can I get an Amen, for real?
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Get off Facebook and Twitter and start going to your city council meetings. Your social media posts aren’t going to change many people’s minds.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
This obsession over the perfectly sculpted body. I’m still learning to embrace my bearish physique, but have, on more than one occasion, been on the receiving end of judgment and/or comments from perfect strangers who feel it is their place to say something.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
I was probably around 10 when I first saw “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” I know I didn’t quite understand what I was seeing, but it definitely connected to a part of me I would soon come to terms with. Honorable mentions for “But I’m A Cheerleader,” “To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar” and “Yossi and Jagger. “
What’s the most overrated social custom?
Saying “bless you” after someone sneezes. I still do it, every single time, even to strangers, so I don’t look like an asshole, but I really don’t want to.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
I’m still waiting for my Tony.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
You’re stronger than you think you are. You can come out and those who can’t accept it aren’t worth your time or energy.
D.C. is young, vibrant, diverse and interesting. It’s large enough not to get bored and small enough that you can run into friends on the Metro on the regular. I can’t imagine living anywhere else.