Story District, a local organization that fosters excellence and innovation in autobiographical storytelling through classes, live performance and more, celebrates Hanukkah with its seventh annual installment of “My So-Called Jewish Life.”
It’s Sunday, Dec. 13 at 7:30 p.m. at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue (600 I St., N.W.) and features “funny, poignant, powerful and even peculiar” autobiographical stories about all things Jewish, not-so-Jewish and wanna-be Jewish. Amy Saidman, Story District’s artistic executive director, will host. Tickets are $20 in advance or $25 day of. Details at sixthandi.org.
One of the storytellers will be Robin Katcher who will share stories of her mother’s concerns about her being a Jewish lesbian. Katcher, a New York City native, came to the Washington area 20 years ago on a fellowship working on social justice issues for the Reform Jewish movement. By day she’s a non-profit development consultant.
Katcher and her wife, Tonya, live in Silver Spring, Md., with their 2-year-old daughter. Katcher enjoys reading “really good adolescent fiction” and watching “Doc McStuffins” with her daughter in her free time.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I’ve been out for about 23 years. The hardest person to tell was my mom, but maybe not for the reasons you might think. To hear the full story you should go to Story District’s “My So Called Jewish Life” this Sunday.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
There are too many to list. Any happiness and freedom I enjoy in my life is due to the incredible bravery and work of those who came before me. Today I feel especially grateful for writers, artists and activists like Audre Lorde and Joan (JEB) Biren.
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
Laying beside my wife in our comfy bed. As the mother of a 2-year-old, any night I sleep all the way through without interruption beside the love of my life is definitely the BEST nightspot.
Describe your dream wedding.
I lived it! A legal shotgun lesbian Jewish wedding surrounded by loving friends and family. My wife was seven months pregnant with our daughter when marriage in Maryland became legal so we decided to make honest women of ourselves. We wrote our own deeply meaningful service, surrounded ourselves with our loving friends and family, rented an amazingly beautiful public park facility, got a great caterer, danced and celebrated.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
I prioritize fights for the racial and economic justice of all people (which also make these LGBT issues). I wonder what issue isn’t an LGBT issue? LGBT people are people of color, have children, are workers, seek economic and educational opportunities, need a sustainable planet, want access to quality health care and fear an out-of-control criminal justice system. If I stand in solidarity with the diversity of our LGBT community, then I believe I must concern myself with all these issues.
What historical outcome would you change?
Any mass genocide, forced enslavement or degradation of a people — sins we seem doomed to repeat throughout our human history.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
The first time I saw an episode of “Wonder Woman.” She was strong, smart, powerful, sexy. She could force people to tell the truth, dodge bullets, fly an invisible plane, fight the Nazis and regularly save the lives of the very men who once doubted her competency as a woman. I’m still not entirely sure if I wanted to be her or date her. I guess I grew up to do a little of both.
On what do you insist?
Lived justice and dignity for all people.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
A picture of my daughter mesmerized by the menorah lights and wishing all our loved ones, who celebrate, a Happy Chanukah.
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“Oye Really, I’m Not That Interesting”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
Nothing! Besides why would we waste our brilliant scientific minds changing one’s sexual orientation? Let’s cure AIDS, cancer or a million other horrific diseases humans face. Being LGBT isn’t a disease or an illness and it isn’t something to be changed any more than I would want to change the sound of a healthy beating heart.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
I believe there is some energy in the world that lives within each of us and is greater than any one of us. Call it love, faith in humanity, nature, religion, G-d, whatever. Feeling its presence reminds me to be loving, humble, grateful, kind and present.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Accept our gratitude and stay open for what is most needed that you can best provide. Honor the true diversity of LGBT people, develop the leadership of others, align us, fight for justice and take good care of yourself.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
My family — those I was lucky enough to get at birth and those I have chosen throughout my life. And if they were, maybe, holding some really delicious dark chocolate, that would be an added bonus.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
The ones we have internalized as the truth about ourselves.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
Please don’t make me choose!
What’s the most overrated social custom?
I really hate all those customs around what is supposedly appropriate for a girl or a boy. All that gender norming we force people into from birth through adulthood — girls should wear dresses, like pink and play with dolls or boys should wear pants, like blue and play with trucks. It’s all just made up bullshit that squeezes us into a binary, controls and limits us. All people should be free to explore and express themselves and be embraced for their authentic self.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
I’m not that good at coveting, but I’d really love one day to be good enough to be selected for Story District’s Top Shelf.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
I wish I knew I could be this happy without all the worrying and over-working.
I get to work for justice with amazing leaders and organizations. I found my people and made my community here.