Interview with Val Fishman for On The Record: The BC Jewish Queer & Trans Oral History Project in collaboration with JQT Vancouver. Interviewed by Carmel Tanaka via remote Zoom video call. Val (she/her) is a Jewish lesbian born and living in Vancouver. Val talks about her family history originating in Eastern Europe, through Scotland to Canada and how her family became quite assimilated from Jewish culture in North America. Val talks about her parents’ anti-fascist activism and her own work within the Women’s Movement in BC. She reflects on finding spirituality through Wiccan or Pagan practice and how this intertwines with her Jewishness despite not being the common Jewish experience. Val talks about when she realized she was a lesbian, the difficulties of coming out, and only finding out she was of Jewish heritage at 30. She talks about her growing involvement with the Jewish community in Vancouver, including the Jewish Caucus of a BC women’s organizations. She talks about how her sexuality, class and culture intersects in Jewish, queer and/or women’s spaces and what could make these spaces more comfortable to occupy. Val closes with how gay culture has changed, the importance of looking to older individuals for wisdom, and how she came to her magic name, Ashtare.
Interview with Caryl Dolinko for On The Record: The BC Jewish Queer & Trans Oral History Project in collaboration with JQT Vancouver. Interviewed by Carmel Tanaka via remote Zoom video call. Caryl is a Jewish lesbian, born in Edmonton, Alberta and currently residing in Vancouver. Caryl recalls her parents and grandparents livelihoods in the theater and furniture industries and origins in Eastern Europe. She talks about being a tomboy from a young age and coming out at age 25 to the acceptance of her family. She also talks about the difficulty finding space to be a lesbian and Jewish at the same time up until the mid-2000s and how Vancouver Pride has sometimes been a conflicting place to be Jewish. She recalls travelling stories, including her time in Israel, England and Japan, and her various jobs alone the way. Caryl talks about the Lesbian Phone Tree in Vancouver, a network of lesbians phone calling one another with community updates and how it helped her found a queer women’s softball league. She talks about working with Vancouver Pride in the mid-2000s and growing it towards what it is today. She talks about financial barriers to Jewish community, becoming a part of the Jewish community in Mexico, and how being a Jew has become more important to her as she has aged.
Interview with Pat Johnson for On The Record: The BC Jewish Queer & Trans Oral History Project in collaboration with JQT Vancouver. Interviewed by Carmel Tanaka via remote Zoom video call. Pat (he/him) is a non-Jewish gay man who is a prominent figure in Jewish journalism in Vancouver. Pat talks about how he was introduced to Jewish culture and community throughout his education, including taking Jewish Studies at McGill, and political organizing on campus. Pat talks about returning to Vancouver, pursuing journalism school and writing for Xtra which eventually introduced him to the Jewish Western Bulletin. He talks about his 25 year history of working for the JWB, now Jewish Independent, including the story of how he came to co-own the paper. Pat talks about the changing attitudes to LGBTQ and interfaith issues within Vancouver’s Jewish institutions, and Jewish institutions participating in Vancouver Pride. Pat and Carmel discuss a vigil Pat organized for Carmel’s cousin who was murdered in Israel for being gay. Pat talks about experiencing anti-Zionism within the Queer Film Festival community. He also talks about Jewish Family Services and their attempts to offer queer programming. Pat closes by reflecting on the most significant works of his career and academics he admires.
Interview with Nancy Rosenblum for On The Record: The BC Jewish Queer & Trans Oral History Project in collaboration with JQT Vancouver. Interviewed by Carmel Tanaka via remote Zoom video call. Nancy (she/her) is Jewish lesbian born in Los Angeles, California and currently residing in Nelson, BC. Nancy reflects on her parents’ lives in LA and her family’s origins in the Eastern Europe. She talks about her family’s entrepreneurship in the American fashion industry. Nancy talks about finding family in the Jewish lesbian community and how she realized she was a lesbian in her early 20s. Nancy talks about discovering filmmaking in high school and eventually going to California Institute of Arts for photography and filmmaking. She talks about two prominent art shows she did: one in protest of mainstream media’s normalized portrayal of violence against women; and one photographing the lesbian community of 1980s LA. Nancy talks about her partner of 36 years who is also a professional photographer and how they ended up in Nelson, BC. Nancy compares her experience being a Jewish lesbian in LA to Nelson. Nancy talks about the changing acceptance and assimilation of the lesbian identity, where the trans community experiences the most backlash today.
Interview with Shira Macklin for On The Record: The BC Jewish Queer & Trans Oral History Project in collaboration with JQT Vancouver. Interviewed by Carmel Tanaka via remote Zoom video call. Shira (she/her) is a Jewish lesbian woman, who was born in Estevan, SK and currently residing in Vancouver. Shira shares about her family origins in England and Russia, and growing up on the Canadian prairies. Shira tells the story behind how she realized she was a lesbian, coming out to her university aged children, and discovering lesbian community in Winnipeg. Shira talks about finding spirituality after experiencing a plane-jacking in India, which led her to the Diamond Approach spirituality school in Colorado and eventually Vancouver. Shira talks about her youth including education, awareness of the Holocaust and early investment in zionism. She talks about her relationship and career histories, and her involvement in Or Shalom. She reflects on women’s/lesbian Seders in Vancouver, and the relationship between the Jewish and queer communities.
Summary: Interview with Ira Rogers for On The Record: The BC Jewish Queer & Trans Oral History Project in collaboration with JQT Vancouver. Interviewed by Carmel Tanaka via remote Zoom video call. Ira (he/him) is a gay Jewish man, born in Manhattan and currently residing in Vancouver. Ira describes his parents’ history and some of his early memories in New York City, and in Los Angeles with family friends. Ira describes coming out at 21, two years after Stonewall, and how it was largely met without resistance in the Jewish community in NYC; a contrast to his time living in Nashville as a songwriter and musician. He talks about his transition out of pre-med in college to major in music at Brooklyn College and how his 19 years in Tennessee allowed him personal and career growth. Ira explains how he was prompted to move away from Nashville to find a place that aligned more with his queer, liberal Jew identity and eventually settled on Vancouver. Ira talks about being married to a woman, while still wanting to explore his queer sexuality and how this complicated their relationship. He then talks about his current partner of over 17 years that he met soon after moving to Vancouver. Ira closes with reflections on being gay and Jewish, and the advice that one’s care, compassion and kindness can be the keys to fulfilling relationships alongside being oneself.
Interview with Ann Daskal for On The Record: The BC Jewish Queer & Trans Oral History Project in collaboration with JQT Vancouver. Interviewed by Carmel Tanaka via remote Zoom video call. Ann identifies as a ‘bisexual, non-monogamous celibate’ and describes connection to genderfluidity and the lesbian identity. Ann was born in Joplin, MO and currently resides in Vancouver. Ann talks about her changing relationship with the Jewish community and Judaism from a child in the American midwest to present. She talks about her parents’ lives in Missouri, Michigan and California amongst others, with family history in Eastern Europe. Ann talks about her school experiences, including moving away to Wayne State University where she enjoyed the independence and the culture of the ‘60s, including rock concerts and hitchhiking across the US. Ann discusses how they came to Vancouver and the political action they encountered, including the women's movement and WAVAW. Ann talks about same-sex marriage at Or Shalom, as well as an event with the lesbian theoretician Sandra Butler at Temple Sholom. Ann reflects on involvement in the group called the Glowing Alefs, and in lesbian and/or feminist Seders.
Interview with Ruth Simkin for On The Record: The BC Jewish Queer & Trans Oral History Project in collaboration with JQT Vancouver. Interviewed by Madison Slobin via remote Zoom video call. Ruth (she/her) is a queer Jewish woman who was born in Winnipeg, currently residing in Victoria, B.C. She explains how she used to subscribe to the ‘lesbian’ label, but no longer feels connected to one identity. Ruth recalls her family history in rural Manitoba, including her parents, grandparents and siblings, their livelihoods and her relationships with them. Ruth talks about coming out to her family in her twenties, and her experience with getting married to a man at age 18. She discusses her connections to Jewish community, and how being Jewish was understood by her peers throughout her education. Ruth speaks to her pride in being a doctor and a writer, including having written a feminist Haggadah called ‘Like an Orange on a Seder Plate’. Ruth talks about how writing has become an important outlet for her as she became a wheelchair user. Ruth also discusses queer political organizing in Calgary, and coming to B.C. after ending a serious relationship. She discusses how she went back to school to study palliative care while living on Salt Spring Island, and moving to Victoria once working full time as a palliative care doctor. She closes by talking about being a grandmother, but also the relationship between the Jewish and queer communities.
Interview with David Kesselman for On The Record: The BC Jewish Queer & Trans Oral History Project in collaboration with JQT Vancouver. Interviewed by Carmel Tanaka via remote Zoom video call. David is a gay Jewish man born in Lviv, Ukraine and currently living in Vancouver. David recalls his parents and their origins in Eastern Europe, and immigrating to Israel as a young child. He recalls his modest upbringing, and his relationship with his half brother. David discusses his realization that he was gay while in nursing school in Toronto and how being a secular Jew meant he didn’t experience religious backlash for being gay in Toronto or Vancouver, though he does talk about his experiences with antisemitism out in the general world. David talks about having a serious girlfriend from high school, whom of which he would eventually move to Canada for and get married to. He talks about working in Toronto hospitals, going to nursing school, and having children with his then-wife and how things changed when he came out at 31. He talks about how he worked in Yellowknife, and ended up in B.C. David talks about how he met his current partner Oscar. David closes with the importance of staying true to oneself.
Part 3 of interview with Reva Hutkin for On The Record: The BC Jewish Queer & Trans Oral History Project in collaboration with JQT Vancouver. Interviewed by Carmel Tanaka via remote Zoom video call. Reva recalls to her time in Montreal being active in Jewish lesbian community. She discusses having lesbian Seders which focused on women’s empowerment and Jewish women’s inclusion concerning Seder. She also participated in Jewish queer writing group that produced a queer Haggadah.