Keshet UK, the national forum for LGBT Jews, has released an It Gets Better video to tell gay, bi and trans youth struggling with their identities that life does improve.
Co-convenors of the group and PinkNews.co.uk founder Benjamin Cohen feature in the film telling viewers about their experiences of coming out.
Keshet UK, which means ‘rainbow’, hopes to challenge prejudice, tackle anti-gay bullying and support Jewish LGBT people in schools, synagogues and social care.
Rabbi Ariel Frieldander says when she realised she was gay “suddenly, the whole world changed and a lot of things started to make sense where they hadn’t made sense before.”
She adds: “I think what I forgot at the time was I was so busy coming out and wanting everyone to accept me that I didn’t realise my parents also in a way had to come out, they had to adjust to things being different to how they thought they were or how they wanted them to be and I needed to give them that time. Once they had that time, they were OK.”
The video also features Dalia Fleming who was a pupil at the London Orthodox Jewish school JFS, which was at the centre of some controversy last month after showing pupils a slide for ‘gay cure’ group JONAH during a discussion on homosexuality.
Fleming says she came out to some students at the school when she was 15, and “they accepted me for me and it didn’t make a difference who I found attractive because they still knew me”.
She says that her Orthodox mother struggled with the news at first but “saw that I could be happy, and saw that I was happy and that I was still doing well in school and still generally Dalia”. Her father, she said, was thought it was “silly” because he imagined she would not have children.
She adds that “people surprise you”, and recommends young gays “know that who [they] are is incredible”.
Writing about the filming of his video, Cohen said: “Once I watched back the video, I realised it would have some impact. It’s the thing I’m most proud of making during the five-and-a -half years that I’ve been at Channel 4 News because it’s from the heart. It’s not the best delivered piece to camera I’ve ever recorded or the best use of language. But it really means something to me. The personal connection is something that very rarely happens with news stories I produce.”
Keshet UK was founded to make progress in areas which have received little attention, such as Jewish social care for LGBT elderly people, or how children with LGBT parents are treated in Jewish schools.
It also hopes to investigate the experiences of Orthodox LGBT Jews and develop campaigns and initiatives with Jewish community organisations, such as schools, synagogues and youth movements.