One needs to look no further than July’s gay pride parade in Jerusalem for evidence the danger religious bigots pose to LGBT youth.
An ultra-Orthodox Jew, Yishai Schlissel, was charged with murder after a knife-wielding rampage that left 16-year-old Shira Banki dead and five others with stab wounds. Schlissel had served 10 years in jail for a similar attack in 2005 that injured three.
In the U.S., says furniture executive Mitchell Gold, the stamp of religious and moral disapproval is fueling a national crisis that drives thousands of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth onto the streets and into harm’s way.
And all too many, like last December’s case of Ohio trans teen Leelah Alcorn, whose parents sent her to Christian conversion therapy, are driven to suicide to end their pain.
Gold, who was born Jewish, but practices “treating people the way I want to be treated,” draws a direct relationship between hatred in the pulpit and a crisis in which 40% of the estimated 500,000 homeless young people on the streets are LGBT.
“The vast majority of these kids are either thrown out or leave their homes because their family’s religion teaches them that LGBT people are ‘sinners and an abomination’,” Gold said Friday night at a benefit for New York City’s Ali Forney Center, a nonprofit that helps homeless gay kids 365 days a year.
“These teachings must stop,” he said in accepting the center’s corporate Spotlight Award for the work he and business partner Bob Williams do on behalf of the gay community. The two gay men are the owners of the North Carolina-based Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams home furnishings chain.
Gold is founder of Faith in America, a national group whose mission is to urge religious leaders to stop teaching that being LGBT is evil and a sin. More than 5,000 people have sign the organization’s Change.org petition.
Gold, who was introduced to the packed gala inside New York’s Capitale by out weatherman Sam Champion, poignantly recounted a recent visit he and Williams made tom the Ali Forney Center.
Great night to honor a friend #MitchellGold and a great cause #aliforneycenter #afcgala2015 #nyc pic.twitter.com/lTD0ThOriP— Sam Champion (@SamChampion) October 24, 2015
“We listened as several of these kids told us that at Ali Forney, they feel loved like they never have before. Stop and think about that for a minute. These kids who have suffered the trauma of not being loved by their families have found that love from the staff at Ali Forney,” he said. “What extraordinary work the staff does.”
‘LEGAL’ & ‘SPIRITUAL’ PROGRESS
Gold noted that 2015 has been an extraordinary year for LGBT Americans legally (the marriage equality ruling) and even spiritually.
“Several very prominent, and less so, ministers have come out and said they no longer believe homosexuality is a sin — and that gay people should be allowed to marry,” he told The Forward.
He cited the Rev. David Gushee, a Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics at Mercer University, a Baptist college and divinity school in Georgia; and the Rev. Tony Campolo, a long time progressive evangelical leader.
“I will henceforth oppose any form of discrimination against you. I will seek to stand in solidarity with you who have suffered the lash of countless Christian rejections. I will be your ally in every way I know how to be,” Gushee said last fall.
“For a kid in an evangelical home in Oklahoma, North Carolina or even New Jersey, that is extraordinary progress and hope. It could save their life,” Gold said.
Gold says he was disappointed, however, that Roman Catholic Pope Francis was muddled.
“Sadly, if I were a Catholic kid, I think I would not quite be sure what to think. The Pope talks out of both sides of his mouth: One day says something encouraging and the next day … He’s certainly better than his predecessor,” Gold said.
He said Francis should have taken up Ali Forney Center Executive Director Carl Siciliano’s invitation “to visit a homeless shelter for LGBT teens — especially because the Catholic kids there are there largely due to the church’s harmful, outdated and misguided teachings.”
BEA ARTHUR AWARD WINNERS
Three others were honored Friday night with Bea Arthur service awards. Arthur, the Jewish stage, screen, and television great who died in 2009 at age 86, was a major supporter of the Ali Forney Center.
A new residence for homeless LGBT youth is being built in the East Village and is to be named in her honor.
The three Bea Arthur honorees were: New York State Assembly Members Linda Rosenthal and Andrew Hevesi and State Sen. Brad Hoylman.
The Ali Forney Alumnus Award went to Hilal Khalil, who came to the center in 2008 when his family cut him off. He is now in his third year at the City University of New York School of Law.
Friday night’s “A Place at the Table” annual gala for The Ali Forney Center was hosted by funny lady Lea DeLaria, a long time actress and jazz singer who gained major fame as part of the SAG award-winning cast of Orange is the new Black, the Netflix series in which she plays Carrie “Big Boo” Black.
Follow John A. Oswald on Twitter - @nyc_oz
If you’re a car-owning Jew on the Upper West Side, beware!
Rosh Hashanah brought a shakeup over filming of the new “Ghostbusters” movie, which came to the neighborhood over the holiday. Residents on the closed-off streets were asked to move their cars during the holiday, when anyone observing it would be unable to drive. A quiet uproar followed.
Now, adding insult to injury, over the first days of Sukkot, Clint Eastwood’s “Sully” began filming, with the same burden on residents, in the same famously Jewish area. And while Ghostbusters is about some goons who manage to destroy much of the Upper West Side — or at least cover it in marshmallow fluff — Sully is about Chelsey Sullenberger, the hero pilot who landed a damaged plane in the Hudson in 2009, capably avoiding all kinds of opportunities for destruction. You would think a film crew telling a story about a do-gooder would be interested in do-gooding itself, but perhaps not.
As a Jew hailing from Denver and St. Louis, where everyone covertly ignores the dictum of thou-shalt-not-drive—after all, getting to synagogue from most places in either city without a car takes the same amount of time as an entire Torah service—this is a foreign problem to me. None the less, what gives, New York?
It’s too easy to use Clint Eastwood quotes against him in this situation, so I’ll just say: we’ve tried being reasonable and we don’t like it. Now get out of here before we have a heart attack.
A New York City teen named Matt had the party of the century this weekend, when the singer, dressed in a black Herve Leger dress and Balmain cage sandals, showed up on stage to surprise his tweenage friends with a (hora-autotuned?) rendition of “Super Bass.”
It seems worth mentioning here that Nicki Minaj is essentially serving as the traditional hot assistant required of bar mitzvah DJs everywhere. That’s quite a career boost.
Minaj posed for photos, signed autographs and imparted some life-lessons onto the newly-minted man and his friends. Addressing the boys in the room, “Reverend Nicki Minaj” (apparently she’s never heard of a rabbi) said, don’t “be a slouch or a bum.” Turning to the ladies, she added: “Never let a man have to take care of you. Do you understand me? Be your own woman. Be your own person. Do you understand me?”
Preach, Nicki. Mazel tov.
Comedian Joan Rivers’ will left money to several charitable organizations to which she was connected.
Among the Jewish organizations which received bequests were the Jewish Guild for the Blind, Jewish Home and Hospital Foundation, and the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles.
The amount received by each organization is unknown, since they will be paid from a confidential trust, the New York Daily News reported Wednesday, citing papers filed in Manhattan Surrogate’s Court.
Rivers’ estate is worth an estimated $150 million. Rivers’ assistant Jocelyn Pickett reportedly received River’s four rescue dogs in a bequest. Daughter Melissa, the will’s executor, also received all of her mother’s personal property.
Rivers died at the age of 81 in September, a week after being rushed to Manhattan’s Mount Sinai Hospital after her heart stopped during throat surgery at a clinic. Doctors at the hospital put her in an induced coma from which she never awoke.
The newspaper reported that Melissa Rivers plans to file a wrongful death suit against Yorkville Endoscopy, the Upper East Side clinic which performed the surgery.
Getting tired of your windowless closet, better known as a New York apartment? Or maybe you’ve decided to give your roommate — or uninvited guests (mice I’m looking at you) — some space and are on the market for a new home.
Well, if you have a spare $26 million to drop on a new crib, super star Lauren Bacall’s 9-room apartment overlooking Central Park just hit the market, and It. Is. Epic.
Bacall, who died earlier this year, moved into the iconic Dakota Building (where John Lennon lived — and died) on New York’s Upper West Side in 1961. The real estate listing does a great job on the sell, we think. Talk about descriptive adjectives!
Retained by the original owner since the 1960’s, this rare and iconic treasure represents a true once in a life-time opportunity. Uncommonly grand in scale, one cannot help but feel awestruck by the sheer enormity of the rooms’ size and volume. Nine lavish rooms in total, five rooms sit directly on Central Park and span approximately 100 feet of prized frontage. Breathtaking views of the park look on to the tree top canopy, with city architecture beyond, and open sky. Even exceptional for the Dakota, the ceilings soar 13 feet, and the majestic residence retains much of its exquisite 19th original detail. One enters the residence through a private mahogany vestibule with towering doors into an elegant and exceptionally large 18 foot entry Foyer, with its own highly coveted original fireplace, unique to the Dakota only. To the right is a seemingly endless 70 foot gallery connecting the major public rooms including the Library, Great Room, and Formal Dining Room. The warm, inviting Library includes original pocket doors, fireplace, and overlooks Central Park from a floor to ceiling window with a Juliet balcony, offering a small treasure from which to enjoy the exceptional park views. The 29 foot wide Great Room offers a sprawling entertaining space with two enormous park facing windows, mantled fireplace, mahogany doors connecting the Library, and another set of mahogany double doors leading to the Gallery.
The listing goes on to describe the elegance of the formal dining room, and the ever important west wing.
So if you’re interested, get moving. Because in our dearly departed Lauren’s famous words, “Patience was not my strong point.” The market feels the same way.
Here’s a sneak peek:
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