From the Editor:
Stories are words, faces, images, wounds, salves, memories. Stories that we tell about ourselves help other people to see us. And sometimes, those same stories about ourselves can help others see who they are.
We had wanted to feature some Pride-related stories even before the tragedy in Orlando; after, we emerged with the conviction to seek out more stories, to help amplify them so that they ripple forward. There are so many different LGBTQ stories that we knew we couldn’t represent everyone, so we published four pieces separately this morning – here they are collected into a “special Pride edition.”
“Empty Chairs at My Wedding“: After rejecting her Hasidic upbringing, Shay Benjamin left the community in pursuit of her authentic self and was lucky enough to find love. But she knows that at her forthcoming wedding, there will be two empty chairs: one for the father she lost decades ago, and one for her mother, who has declined to attend on religious grounds. Her story illustrates how difficult it can be to break away from everything you know in order to find the person you know you can be.
“LGBTQ Labels in a Violent World“: Erica Snyder is a college student and an out and proud lesbian who appreciates the opportunity to find community with others who label themselves lesbians. However, on-campus sexual identity fluidity has led to the erosion of labels, and subsequently, the erosion of the community she prized. In this piece, Erica shares her attitude toward labels and her fears in expressing herself in a post-Orlando world.
“A Mother’s Story“: When her son came out to her a few years ago, Jewish educator Deb Kollin became activated as a parent activist and ally on behalf of her son and many other LGBTQ youth through an L.A.-based organization that helps people to feel at home in their LGBTQ identities as well as in their Jewish identities.
“Coming Out as More Than LGBTQ“: In his own words, Aron A. Moe Macarow “was assigned female at birth and — despite growing up as a culturally Christian woman — discover[ed] in adulthood that I could be much happier as a moderately observant Jewish man.” Don’t miss this story about how Aron reclaimed his true self and found community.
We hope that these writers’ experiences will inspire respectful conversation and that their stories will build bridges to community and understanding for us all. We dedicate this special collection of GrokNation articles to the victims of the attack in Orlando and so many other hate crimes before that one. And we are very grateful to those of you who tell your stories and to those who listen, offering hugs and other kinds of support. Let us use our power to advocate for equality, respect and love.
– E.K., June 24, 2016