I know of no where else that this is happening. No where. I would love to be told differently. So, if you – a random reader – know where else within the realm of a non-LGBT-specific-Jewish synagogues annually led Holocaust commemoration is electing to discuss the Nazi persecution of the many people understood or identified as gay and lesbian: please share!
To remember the Holocaust and its lessons for society including the Nazi persecution of those understood to be gay or lesbian identified my colleague and organizer at the Jewish Community Federation & Foundation of the Greater East Bay Riva Gambert (firstname.lastname@example.org) has organized a free one hour-long Yom HaShoa commemoration at 5pm on May 1 at a mainstream Suburban Reform Temple.
Underwritten by the Tillie and Rene Molho Fund for Holocaust Remembrance at Temple Isaiah (3800 Mt. Diablo Boulevard Lafayette, CA) this program will present the story of one French gay survivor, Pierre Seel z”l told via a performance by Nick Lane, Kevin Copps and directed by Andrew Nance. Pierre Seel who passed away at the age of 82 in 2005 was arrested for homosexuality at 17 by the Gestapo in 1941 after German forces overran France.
The lives and experiences of homosexuals during World War II is rarely covered by the media, the organized Jewish community and the global arts community. It is our collective responsibility to retell these stories so they do not happen again.
A few exceptions to this are Rob Epstein and Jeffery Friedman’s 2000 documentary film, Paragraph 175 (Paragraph 175, was then sodomy provision of the German penal code, dating back to 1871 that led to the arrest of 100,000 men between 1933 and 1945. Only 4,000 survived the imprisonment and concentration camps). Another film that is loosely based on Pierre Seel’s story is 2005’s Un amour à taire (A Love to Hide) which depicts homosexual deportation during World War II and of course, Bent, the 1979 play taking taking place during and after the Night of the Long Knives.
Riva Gambert wants the community-at-large to attend this program. As we collectively examine our shared histories and our contemporary lives she hopes that we can work together to move forward the problems that bullying can create.
I will be attending the program on May 1 but this blog post is one specific chance to say: thank you, Riva. For additional resources on the history of the Gay and Lesbian experience during World War II – I recommend a few of these sites:
- Telling Pictures Outreach Project including a Paragraph 175 Teachers Guide
- Pink Triangle
- San Francisco’s Pink Triangle
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
- Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals Exhibition at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum
- German Memorial to Homosexuals
- The Holocaust Center of Northern California at Jewish Family and Children’s Services of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties
- Association of Holocaust Organizations
- Advocacy group for Gay recognition at Yad Vashem
- Meir Garden Tel Aviv Monument
- UK’s Gay and Lesbian Fund