Want to book a ONE HOUR presentation exploring our history through stories of a Gay Baby Boomer Son of Two German Jewish Holocaust Survivors?
Rick has prepared a "Performance Piece" teaching LGBT-Civil Rights History full of humor and poignant facts. His life experiences include growing up in New York City when segregation and discrimination were the law of the land. When he was growing up, openly gay men were considered mentally ill and criminals; and couldn't be teachers or lawyers. You couldn't even use the words "gay or lesbian" when incorporating a group. This "Talk" has been presented in various settings, including at the United Nations or the Museum of Jewish Heritage. Other Talks were given to college or high school students, in a Synagogue Setting on such ocassions as Kristallnacht, Yom HaShoah, or LGBT Pride Shabbat. Performance can be multi-media.
Being a minority of minorities gives me a unique perspective on life. My "Talk" explores my life through the eyes of a minority of a minority who wants to promote social justice globally. The rest of this page gives some hints as to what the talk or performance contains.
A German Jewish Baby Boomer Grows in Queens
Baby Boomer kids on a Jewish block in Queens
I was so blessed to be born in New York City. It was my parents and grandparents who had to flee persecution as refugees. They were one of the few lucky ones who were able to leave Nazi Germany in 1939. By the time I was 7 and my grandma asked me to pose as I came out of a hotel swimming pool in the German Jewish side of the Catskill Mountains,I knew that I liked being liked by boys and not girls. I also knew that I liked things that most girls liked, and not what most boys liked. I never realized it at the time, but it was no coincidence that almost everyone of the 24 houses on my street were Jewish. That is why I thought that most people on the earth were Jews. It wasn't until I was old enough to cross the avenue that I found out what being in a mimority was like. I was also the only child of refugees. All the other Jews came to America before 1924. But my "son of refugee experience" was one of acceptance and being fully incorporated into our society. I grew up with this mixed German-Jewish culture that ended so abruptly when the Nazis took over in 1933. Being gay was just another minority group that I began to afiliate with. Finally, being from a small and very short family, I had another perspective to deal with. I was always the shortest boy in the class.
Stories from my Parents being German Jewish Refugees
How my father liberated Dachau as an American soldier in 1945, after being an 18 year old Jewish inmate after Kristallnacht in 1938
Both of my parents were born in Germany. My father's side of the family were a combination of long time Germans but my great grandfather and grandfather were born in Galacia and moved to Munich in 1904. While most Jews fled th Czar by going to America, that part of my family took refuge in Germany. My father was born in Augsburg and had a happy childhood until 1933. He was arrested on Kristallnacht in 1938 and was sent with my grandfather to Dachau. Both were eventually released and made their ways to America by November 1939. My father joined the U.S. Army and after going through North Africa, Sicily, Anzio, France and Germany, he was with the Americans when they liberated Dachau and he was the first American to enter Augsburg. America would not give anyone else a visa under the Quota system, so they all died in the Holocaust. My mother's father kicked Julius Streicher in the tuchas around 1932 and held to flee Nuremberg in March 1933. That side of the family went to France and then to New York in 1939. We were part of the Beth Hillel group from Washington Heights.
In 2007, I became a dual German and American citizen, and marched 5 times in the German-American Steuben Parade as a Jew.
Discrimination and Segregation were the laws of the land until 1964, and openly "gay" people were criminals or considered mentally ill.
Growing up when Homosexuals were mentally ill and criminals, and when segregation was the law of the land in NYC.
I grew up when Brown vs. Board of Education reversed segregation as being the law of the land. I attended pubic schools with only one African American in any of my classes from Kindergarten through high school. My neigbhorhoos was still segregated and my block was almost entirely Jewish by design. Openly "gay" people were considered mentally ill until 1973 and criminals in New York State until 1980. Being a teacher or lawyer were barred for people like me. No Bar Association would accept openly gay lawyers due to their moral turpitude clause. The words "gay and lesbian" were not permitted in legal names or corporations. Non-profit status was also barred for LGBT groups. Even legal defense funds could not focus on LGBT causes, because we were criminals.
After Stonewall came the GLF and then so many LGBT groups.
Stories about the first Pride March ('70), First Statewide ('71), and National March('79) and so many other new LGBT groups.
I started coming out as a nice Jewish gay boy in 1965 at the age of 12. It started with me asking my Hebrew School teacher if there was a blessing for two men to get married. That was when we were learning the ritual of breaking a glass at a Jewish wedding. So I knew I was gay in 1969 when the rebellion started at the Stonewall Inn. This section of my life includes when I started the GLF at my college in 1970 and my going to the first demonstration which we now call the Pride Parade or Pride March. I also went to the First Statewide March for Gay Rights in Albany in 1971 and was an organizer for the First March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights in 1979. At that time I was involved with so many of the other "gay" groups which started in the 1970's and 1980's. This period also includes when I fought to get the NYC Holocaust Memorial Park in Sheepshead Bay to include stone markers for the other victims of the Nazi Era and my returning a Torah (which my maternal grandfather brought to America) back to Munich's Congregation Beth Shalom, and my starting the International Association of Lesbian and Gay Children of Holocaust Survivors.