A Champion for Inclusion

After nearly ten years of doing LGBT inclusion work in the Jewish LGBT community, first as the founding director of Jewish Mosaic and now with Keshet, our colleague Gregg Drinkwater is leaving Keshet to pursue his Ph.D. He will be missed sorely by those who work with him, but his ground-breaking work will have a lasting impact. We caught up with Gregg to discuss what the changes he’s seen within the Jewish community and larger American community, what he’s most proud of, and what he’s most looking forward to.

Gregg in Paris

Gregg Drinkwater

As you look back over your time at Jewish Mosaic and Keshet, what are you most proud of? You played a role in galvanizing support in the Jewish community for civil unions in Colorado; you created the Queer Seder, the biggest queer Jewish event in Denver; and you created the idea for – and co-edited the book of – Torah Queeries. What strike you as your biggest successes?

I’m most proud of the way my Jewish community, not just here in Colorado, but across the country, has stepped up and become a champion for inclusion. We still have much work to do and some Jewish communities in the U.S. remain deeply unwelcoming for LGBT Jews. But with so many Jewish voices speaking out for respect and inclusion, I couldn’t be more proud today to be an American Jew.

And don’t forget that a more LGBT-inclusive Jewish community impacts not just American Jews, but our country’s larger social and political landscape. The Jewish community has the capacity to help challenge the assumption that people of faith are anti-LGBT.

As an example, in Colorado this June, in Denver’s annual PrideFest parade – one of the largest in the country – Keshet will be joined by representatives of a record 31 Jewish organizations marching together behind a banner proclaiming “Jewish Community Pride.” Such an unbelievable level of solidarity from Colorado’s Jewish community is a tribute to the hard work of so many people – the current and former staff and board members of Keshet and Jewish Mosaic, the hundreds of volunteers, funders, and supporters who have been such an integral part of our growth, the community leaders who proactively advocate for LGBT inclusion within their own organizations, the rabbis who insist on building welcoming congregations, the educators who challenge anti-LGBT bias, and the allies who change minds one person at a time by acting as role models among their friends and families.