A Name in the Closet

My father’s name is Kantrowitz. He changed it to Kaye in 1942.

At the dyke bar in Portland I tell my best Jewish friend that I’m thinking about taking back my mother’s maiden name. “Kaye is a made up name,” I say, “It has no history.” Amy, historian, tells me, “Just because a history isn’t pretty doesn’t mean it isn’t history.”

Kaye is both history and closet. History is a kind of closet. Kaye is Kantrowitz Kaminsky Keminetsky Kowalsky Klutz Korelowich Ka… (think about asking every Jew you know: what was your name?)

adopted from Nice Jewish Girls: A Lesbian Anthology