Today (27 January) marks Holocaust Remembrance Day. With the rise of anti-Semitism across the US and Europe, LGBTI Jews are reflecting on the legacy of the Holocaust and why it matters today.
According to a recent report, one in 20 British people deny the Holocaust even happened. State-side, FBI data shows a rise in anti-Semitic hate crimes between 2016 and 2017. In New York City specifically, hate crimes targeted Jewish people more than all other groups combined in 2018.
What it means for LGBTI Jews
‘I feel sad on this day. We have not come far enough,’ 31-year-old queer Jew going by the pseudonym Switch tells GSN.
‘We, as LGBTQ+ Jews, still live in fear. We are still faced with the denials of rights, we are faced with hate and ignorance and intolerance.’
‘This day should show us how far the world has come,’ they continue. ‘Not how far it still must go. We shouldn’t have to live in fear. Never again should mean never again… for all of us.’
Nazi views on LGBTQ lives
‘I think it’s important to acknowledge that the Nazis basically started their intellectual purge by getting rid of “degenerate” books and art, which meant stuff by LGBTQ people, stuff about LGBTQ people, [and] the whole library of early research on trans people,’ Miriam, a Jewish lesbian, tells GSN.
‘However, it’s also essential, in my opinion, with young goyish [non-Jewish] queers claiming the shit out of Shoah because “the Nazis killed queer people” to remember that the Nazis mostly didn’t give a fuck about actually killing queers who weren’t members of other targeted categories.’
‘In short, being gay wasn’t going to get you sent to the camps or kicked out of the Nazi Party,’ Miriam states. ‘Being a queer Jew, or a queer Roma, or a disabled queer was actually how people were winding up branded as homosexual or antisocial. Not just being queer.’
Miriam also notes the Nazis ‘didn’t recognize gay women as a real thing and considered lesbianism to be a kind of antisocial behavior.’
Ariel Sobel, a 23-year-old queer Jewish writer, feels the same way as Miriam.
‘As a member of the Jewish and LGBTQ communities, I think it’s important to remember that the Holocaust gave the Jewish people intergenerational trauma that today’s queer people do not suffer from,’ she says.
Rivkah Standig, a 30-year-old queer Jewish woman, also agrees with this analysis.
‘I often feel like LGBTQ people who are otherwise not marginalized almost appropriate the Holocaust,’ she says. ‘As a queer Jew, my Jewish identity is the one that hurts most and is most affected by the Holocaust.’
‘In many ways, I feel like the world wants to universalize the Holocaust. But it wasn’t universal, it was specific,’ Standig continues. ‘There were specific groups targeted. Being gay wouldn’t necessarily outright land you in a concentration camp unless you also belonged to one of the other marginalized groups such as Jews, disabled people, or Roma.’
‘I find it profoundly disrespectful to ignore that specificity and universalize the genocide of these groups. Our pain is passed down from generation to generation in a way that won’t occur by simply being born queer. It’s not the same.’
‘The Holocaust impacts every facet of Jewish life in a way that is fundamentally different than how it affects LGBTQ communities,’ Sobel adds.
Author: Rafaella Gunz
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