by Justin Lerner and Yoni Bock
On March 30, GLOE (Kurlander Program for Gay & Lesbian Outreach and Engagement), the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and the DC GLBT Community Center partnered for the first annual Stonewall Seder in Washington DC. With a sold out crowd of over 60, Jews and non-Jews of all sexual orientations and gender identities came together to celebrate the universal principles of liberty and freedom. From several people sharing their personal stories about the closet, AIDS, workplace discrimination and family strife, we were reminded that LGBT people are still routinely denied basic freedoms and rights.
The seder’s name commemorates the 1969 Stonewall riots in which LGBT people fought back at New York City’s Stonewall Inn against brutal and violent police raids. This moment in our history was a turning point in which people that did not fit into the mainstream sexual culture stood up and said that they would remain silent no longer. The seder provided just that experience- an opportunity for everyone to express their opinions, feelings, and voices.
While the seder was based on the traditional Jewish rituals, the seder had relevance beyond the Jewish community. It took a very Jewish model and turned it into a venue for broader issues focused on justice for all people. With the success of this year’s sold out seder, GLOE will be partnering again with HRC and the DC GLBT Community Center for a second annual Stonewall Seder. And with next year being the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, the possibilities for another commemorative and unique experience are endless.