From queer text study and institutional inclusion to profiles of queer clergy and youth voices, the Keshet blog features new ideas and reflections by and for LGBTQ Jews and their allies. The blog is produced by Keshet, a national organization with offices in the Bay Area, Boston, and New York that works for full LGBTQ equality and inclusion in Jewish life.
We’ve got some big news at Keshet!
We’re bringing on our first ever director of advocacy! In the wake of the Yes on 3 Campaign, and with an eye towards the organizing work we will continue to do in the future, we are thrilled to have Mason Dunn joining us in this role!
This week we sat down with Mason to ask him a few questions, and to learn a little bit about what brings him to this work. He told us about his LGBTQ advocacy, his Jewish identity, and why he is excited to be joining the team here at Keshet!
You’ll be hearing more from (and about!) Mason soon, but for now we hope you enjoy this Q&A:
Can you tell us a little bit about your background with this work?
I’ve been doing LGBTQ advocacy for about fifteen years now. I got started as a college student in Oregon working on a variety of LGBTQ youth issues, including non-discrimination in schools. From there I moved to New England, with my spouse Lauren, and began doing a lot of trans 101 education and working to address the lack of information within schools and with service providers when it came to trans identities.
When I moved to New Hampshire, I was working at the New Hampshire ACLU as part of a legal fellowship after I graduated law school, and specifically focused on LGBTQ rights. After that I ended up at the Mass Trans Political Coalition as the Executive Director, where I have been for the last five and a half years now.
How did you first hear of Keshet?
Keshet has been on my radar since I was living in Oregon, because that was the point where I started my conversion to Judaism, and I started doing research about LGBTQ identity in Judaism. Naturally Keshet showed up.
So I was aware of some of the work very early on in my career as an LGBTQ advocate, but I really got to know Keshet on a much deeper level during the Yes on 3 campaign and all of the work that Keshet did to gather community and advocating to win the Yes on 3 vote in November 2018.
Why is it important for the Jewish community to stand up for LGBTQ rights?
For me personally, as a Jew, this work is critical to my identity—and to the intersection of my trans identity and my Jewish identity.
I think that social justice advocacy is a cornerstone of the Jewish community and the Jewish faith; to work for the rights and equality of all people. That includes LGBTQ rights, and racial justice and economic justice and so many other things that I believe are a core component of our Jewish community.
Why are you excited about this position?
I’m excited about the position because I feel like it is the opportunity for me to put all of my experience from the Yes on 3 campaign and the years of advocacy that I have done for trans rights across the region to work for another aspect of my community that is deeply personal and important to me, which is the aspect of my Jewish community and my Jewish identity.
What is the last good book you read?
I’m currently in the middle of Michelle Obama’s “Becoming,” which is such a beautiful and inspiring narrative. I switch back and forth between nonfiction and science fiction or fantasy novels. My favorite book is “100 Years of Solitude” by Gabriel García Márquez, followed by “The Dream of Eagles” series by Jack Whyte.
What are some things you like to do for fun?
I really enjoy the outdoors, and spend most of my summer weekends outside camping, hiking, backpacking, kayaking, or anything else that gets me outside. Last year I combined my love for the outdoors with my work for trans rights in the #Hike4Rights project. My friend Ev and I hiked across the state of Massachusetts, from the CT border to the VT border to raise awareness for trans identities on the trail. When I can’t be outdoors, I enjoy doing DIY crafts with my spouse Lauren, playing music, or enjoying one of my many geeky fandoms.
What makes you happy?
I really enjoy spending time with my spouse, Lauren. We recently celebrated our 10-year wedding anniversary in September 2018, and I can honestly say our relationship has grown deeper, better, and stronger over time. I am probably happiest when Lauren and I go camping, together or with friends and loved ones – spending time in the outdoors, sitting around a campfire, fishing, hiking, or just enjoying the beauty and intensity of nature.
For more updates on what Mason and our Advocacy team are up to, make sure you are subscribed to our email list!