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Queering the Conversation

Brooklyn Pride was this past Saturday night. It was intermittently pouring, and both those of us watching and the soggy marchers got soaked and didn’t really care. I love the huge excitement of the big Pride Parade, which is weeks to come yet here in NYC, but I love Brooklyn Pride because it’s a lot, well, queerer in a way—in a good way. Occasionally the big parade feels faintly sanitized, too clean and stale. I like to see events queered, especially in a politicized way, especially when I’m caught off guard by it. So I love when social justice stuff gets mixed up in Pride events, as it always seems to in this borough.

Today, at the “Egg Creams and Egg Rolls” event rocking the Eldridge Street Synagogue and its whole block, surprise guest Sheldon Silver (Speaker of the New York State Assembly) made many disarming remarks about the synagogue and followed up on the presenter’s brief history of the egg cream. I daydreamed through much of Speaker Silver’s talk, enjoying the architecture but a bit put off by all the nostalgia, until I heard a brave question from a random audience member: “Is the arena going to be built?” The question, referring to the Atlantic Yards debacle, was said in a defiant tone, and Speaker Silver hurriedly gave a non-answer and left. And it wasn’t the question about Atlantic Yards that got me excited (although that ridiculous, harmful and unconstitutional excuse for a public works project gets me plenty exercised), so much as the realization that I was hearing it in a synagogue—a converted synagogue, but still.

And I got to thinking that the first place I heard about Atlantic Yards was at my very own neighborhood synagogue, which marched in the Pride Parade, and that all the queer friends I ran into on Brooklyn Pride night were Jewish and involved in this queer political version of tikkun olam, and it made me remember that our little battles count just as much as the big ones. So, what are your small-but-vital political fights? How are you queering the conversation? Leave your thoughts below.

–Mel Weiss