Connect with us

Local

Jewish group offers outreach, support

JQ Baltimore is making inroads within the Jewish community for LGBT people, especially concerning Orthodox communities

Published

on

Chase Hiller, JQ Baltimore, gay news, Washington Blade
Chase Hiller, JQ Baltimore, gay news, Washington Blade

Chase Hiller (Photo courtesy of Hiller)

Over the past few months a group called JQ Baltimore has made significant progress in knocking down some barriers that had existed between those of the Jewish faith and the LGBTQ community. Orthodox Judaism has historically struggled with acceptance and inclusion of LGBT Jews. But inroads are gradually being made, and JQ Baltimore, which was founded last June, has clearly been a factor.

There is a concern that teens acknowledging their sexuality or gender identity would relinquish their identification with Judaism. Neely Snyder, 34, who has worked with teenagers for the past 15 years and currently serves as director of teen engagement at the Macks Center for Jewish Education, has seen many teens abandon their Jewish identities while struggling with their sexuality. She has been involved with JQ Baltimore since its inception.

“Most teens feel it’s easier to disengage from Judaism if they feel excluded,” Snyder told the Blade. “I’ve seen many students, as well as friends, struggle with the relationship between their sexual identities and their Jewish identities. Between what I’ve experienced professionally and personally as an ally, I’ve been inspired to make change in the local community.”

The education part of the group’s mission is critical. “JQ Baltimore strives to educate Baltimore’s Jewish community and the community as a whole about LGBTQ issues, which is extremely important because there has been a silence around these issues for many years,” says Chase Hiller, 22, a recent Brandeis University graduate and a member of the group.

Hiller sees the significance of this outreach effort. “The formation and activities of JQ Baltimore are very important to me personally, both as a gay person and as someone who is culturally Jewish, because the aim of the group is to provide programming and resources for LGBTQ people, their allies, their friends, and their families in Baltimore’s Jewish community.”

JQ Baltimore recently helped promote the screening of the film “Mom and Dad, I Have Something to Tell You” at Beth Tfiloh, a Modern Orthodox community school and synagogue located in Pikesville. The documentary by Israeli film director Yair Qedar describes the process Israeli parents go through when their children come out. About 200 attended the screening.

Prior to the establishment of JQ Baltimore, there have been other efforts to reach out to LGBT Jews. There are several local synagogues with an active LGBT membership and inclusive culture. One such synagogue is the Bolton Street Synagogue, which is located on W. Cold Spring Lane in Baltimore. According to Rabbi John Franken, that synagogue has a history of welcoming interfaith couples, people of color as well as LGBT Jews.

Monthly meetings with programs and discussions take place at the Rosenbloom Owings Mills Jewish Community Center and are facilitated by Melissa Berman, the JCC’s assistant director of arts and culture.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Local

Sheila Alexander-Reid to step down as director of D.C. LGBTQ Affairs Office

Veteran community activist to take new job workplace bias consultant

Published

on

Mayor's Office of GLBT Affairs, Sheila Alexander-Reid, gay news, Washington Blade

Longtime LGBTQ community advocate Sheila Alexander-Reid, who has served since 2015 as director of Mayor Muriel Bowser’s Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning Affairs, is stepping down from her city job in mid-July.

Alexander-Reid told the Washington Blade she will take a few weeks of accumulated leave beginning June 15 to recuperate from follow-up knee surgery before officially leaving her current job to take on a new role as a private sector consultant in the area of workplace bias and diversity training.

She said will announce the name of the private sector company she will be joining as a senior vice president when she begins her new job in mid-July.

Among her duties at the Mayor’s LGBTQ Affairs Office has been to lead the office’s staff in providing LGBTQ related diversity or competency training for D.C. government employees at all city agencies.

According to the office’s website, other activities it carries out include connecting LGBTQ residents with city services they may need, advocating on behalf of programs and policies that benefit the lives of LGBTQ residents, providing grants to community-based organizations that serve the LGBTQ community and LGBTQ homeless youth; and host events that “enrich, promote, and bring together” the LGBTQ community in D.C.

“That work is always going to be part of who I am,” Alexander-Reid said. “But now I will be expanding on that work to look at racial equity and gender bias as well as LGBTQ bias,” she said. “I feel like I will be doing the same work but in a different format.”

Prior to starting her job at the mayor’s office, Alexander Reid served as Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at the Washington Blade, Director of Strategic Engagement at the Washington City Paper, and Founder and Executive Director of the D.C. based Women in the Life Association. She has also served as host of Inside Out, a local FM LGBTQ radio show.

Alexander-Reid noted that when she began work at the LGBTQ Affairs Office in late January 2015, less than a month after Bowser took office as mayor, the office consisted of two full-time employees, including her, with a budget of $209,000. In the current fiscal year 2021, the office now has four full-time employees and two additional detailed employees, from the Department of Health and Department of Human Services. The mayor is proposing a budget of $561,000 for the office for fiscal year 2022.

“I would be remiss if I didn’t say what a pleasure it has been to work for Mayor Bowser,” said Alexander-Reid. “I was excited to work for her and I don’t regret it for one second. “It’s been an amazing journey and I appreciate her having faith in me.”

She said she expects an interim director to be named to run the office in mid-July while a search is conducted for a permanent director.

Continue Reading

Local

Attack on trans woman in D.C. laundromat captured in video

Police seek help from community in identifying suspects.

Published

on

(Screen capture via the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department's YouTube channel)

D.C. police on Thursday night released a dramatic video taken from a surveillance camera showing two women and a man repeatedly punching and shoving a transgender woman at a laundromat on Benning Road in Northeast Washington in an incident in which the victim was stabbed in the head.

Police, who have listed the Sunday, June 6, incident as a suspected anti-LGBTQ hate crime, are appealing to the community for help in identifying the three suspects, who are shown in the video attacking the trans woman before escaping in a black SUV while carrying laundry bags.

Detectives from the Metropolitan Police Department’s Sixth District obtained the video from a surveillance camera at the Capital Laundry Mat at 1653 Benning Road, N.E., according to a police report and a police statement released Thursday night.

The video shows that the suspects were accompanied by two young children. It shows one of the adult female suspects appearing to be dancing by herself in front of a row of washing machines seconds before the three suspects lunged at the victim and began punching her.

“One of the suspects brandished a knife and stabbed the victim,” the police statement says. “The suspects fled the scene in a vehicle. The victim was transported to a local hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries,” the statement says.

“Anyone who can identify these individuals, or vehicle, or has knowledge of this incident should take no action but call police at 202-727-9099 or text your tip to the Department’s TEXT TIP LINE at 50411,” the statement adds. It says the department’s Crime Solvers program offers a reward of up to $1,000 to anyone who provides information leading to the arrest and indictment of a person or persons responsible for a crime committed in D.C.

Police spokesperson Alaina Gertz told the Washington Blade that because the investigation is ongoing, police could not immediately disclose whether they know if the victim knew one or more of the attackers before the incident took place or what, if anything, prompted the suspects to attack the victim other than due to her status as a transgender person.

The video released by D.C. police can be accessed here:  https://youtu.be/7v8lthvUPcg

Continue Reading

Local

Trans woman attacked, stabbed at D.C. laundromat

Police seeking three suspects

Published

on

shooting, DC Eagle, assault, hate crime, anti-gay attack, police discrimination, sex police, Sisson, gay news, Washington Blade

D.C. police are investigating a June 6 assault and stabbing of a transgender woman at a laundromat on Benning Road in Northeast Washington that a police incident report lists as a suspected anti-LGBT hate crime.

“On Sunday, June 6, 2021, MPD officers responded to a radio assignment for a stabbing at 1653 Benning Road, N.E.,” the report says. “Officers arrived on the scene with Victim 1 bleeding,” the report continues. “Victim 1 stated that they were stabbed in the head and assaulted by Suspect 1, Suspect 2, and Suspect 3,” according to the report.

The report, which lists the incident as an assault with a dangerous weapon, says officers provided first aid to the victim until an ambulance arrived and took the victim to a local hospital for medical treatment. The report does not disclose the victim’s gender identity or sexual orientation.

But D.C. transgender activists Earline Budd, an official with the LGBTQ supportive group HIPS, and Ruby Corado, founder and CEO of the LGBTQ community services center Casa Ruby, each said they learned that the victim is a transgender woman.

Corado said she has heard that the victim was recovering from her injuries and may have been released from the hospital where she was treated.

D.C.’s Fox 5 News reported details of the incident that were not in the police report obtained by the Washington Blade. According to Fox 5, the victim told D.C. police the assailants used anti-LGBTQ slurs during the attack and the assailants consisted of a man and two women who “beat her and stabbed her in the head.”

The police report obtained by the Blade from the police public information office does provide a description of the three suspects and does not state whether or not the victim knew them prior to the attack.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us @washblade

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts

Popular