This summer, Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters will be working to celebrate Gay Pride week in Boston with Keshet, a national organization that works for full LGBTQ equality in Jewish life. At JBBBS, we believe that our collaboration with Keshet is extremely important for the meaningful work we do. With Big and Little Brothers and Sisters and Friends who identify as LGBTQ, we want to celebrate the LGBTQ community in our midst and to show our full support for inclusion.
On Sunday, June 9th, from 11:30am-2:30pm at Jamaica Pond, we will be co-sponsoring a fun, family-friendly Pride Picnic & Field Day with Keshet. Come, bring your friends, and wear your rainbow colors to show support. There will be bracelet-making, painting, Ultimate Frisbee, kickball, crazy hats and costumes, lots of music, food and more!
I want to tell you the story of a personal friend of mine who was matched with a Big, through our agency, about ten years ago. Starting at the end of elementary school, Mike was the person to pick on at recess. He felt constantly left out, different from all the other boys, and scared to talk to anyone about it. It was a cycle. The more people picked on him, the more socially isolated he became. Toward the end of middle school, he was matched with a Big Brother, Josh. Josh and Mike had and still have an incredibly close relationship. Josh, Mike tells me, is the best listener he has ever met, and after having not spoken with anyone for entire weeks at school, Mike would spend hours with Josh – just talking.
A couple of years after Mike was matched, he started to recognize why he felt so different from all the other boys. When boys at school talked about girls, Mike couldn’t relate. He just didn’t find them interesting. When people asked him “who he liked,” he didn’t have an answer. One day, a video was shown at school about the LGBTQ community. I’ll leave the rest to Mike’s words: “At that point, it just clicked. I realized I was gay – I don’t know why. And then I started liking my best friend. It was horrible. The worst thing I could imagine. It was so scary. I felt alone, like no one would understand me except the people in that video, and I didn’t know who those people were. I couldn’t tell my mom. I couldn’t tell my dad, or my uncle. I definitely couldn’t tell my best friend. And then I realized something: Maybe I could tell Josh!! The thought of this made me so excited – that someone would actually listen to me and maybe not judge me for what I was going to say. The next couple times I hung out with Josh, I planned to tell him, but it was way too hard. If I lost Josh, I knew I would then feel completely alone. One day, Josh asked me about Ken (my best friend), and it all came out. The waterworks. I started crying and told him everything. And, like every other time, he was the best listener in the world. He just let me talk and was so supportive. From then on, he was incredible. He was interested in the process I was going through, he consistently sent me resources to read. He made me feel normal and good. Without Josh, I don’t know how I would have gotten through all of this – honestly.”
Other Little Brothers and Sisters in the JBBBS family have similar stories to Mike’s. Big Brothers and Sisters, Friends, and so many others deeply involved in what we do to accomplish our mission do too. I am personally so excited by our collaboration with Keshet and by our commitment to the LGBTQ community.
Please come to the picnic on June 9 to show your support, and if you are interested in getting involved, please contact me, Aliza: email@example.com or 617-558-6549. Visit Keshet’s “upcoming events” to find out more information about this one!
Another shameless plug: On June 8, Keshet will be marching in the Gay Pride Parade in Boston holding a banner that will read, “Boston Jews for LGBTQ Rights.” Our JBBBS logo will be on that banner. I will be marching as a Boston Jew for LGBTQ Rights. If you’d like to join me (and I’d like that), let me know.