About Gella Solomon
Gella Solomon hails from Brooklyn New York, where she was born and raised. She is a full-time student of Judaism, pursuing her dream of becoming a rabbi via a scenic route of various Yeshivas and sometimes Rabbinical school. She'll get there eventually. She is currently a full-time student in the Scholars Circle and Arts Fellowship at The Drisha Institute, a pluralistic women's Yeshiva in Manhattan. She is also heavily involved in Nehirim, A Jewish culture and spirituality-focused organization for LGBTQ Jews and their partners and allies. In addition to being a student, Gella is a singer, a writer, a feminist, a youth rights activist, and a teacher. But she usually doesn't get paid for these things. Go figure.
Recent Posts by Gella Solomon:
When someone does or says something offensive, one thing that I never want to hear is that I should not be offended because they didn’t mean to be offensive.
There are roughly two sorts of offensiveness in this world: that which is intended and that which is unintended. In some ways the intentional offensiveness is easier to cope and contend with. If a person understands that what they do or say is offensive, even if they do it anyway, at least they are living in the same universe as you. They know that there are certain things that will push your buttons, and even though they have chosen to go ahead and push, they at least acknowledge that the buttons are there. It hurts to be the intended target of hurtful actions or words, but there is some degree of comfort in knowing that you’re starting from a common ground, and that you know where you stand with the offender.
Commentary, Ideas »
The game of who is more oppressed is a complicated one. When intersectionality is taken into account, questions of identity are more complicated than black or white, gay or straight, Christian or not. Being of a majority group in one aspect of one’s identity does not preclude minority status in another, and social minority is not always a numerical minority. Minority status may be visible or virtually invisible, concealable or not. Some are able to pass or to assimilate to minimize the stigma they will bear in mainstream society, others cannot. Still others are unwilling to so.
Language has always fascinated me. The way words come to represent concepts, or to misrepresent them, the ways the things which words represent can change and evolve, and how sometimes the words follow suit, and sometimes they don’t. Words and language are so powerful, so complex, and yet they have no reality in and of themselves. Stripped of context, language is merely a series of letters and/or sounds. In context, however, they can create or destroy whole worlds.
Commentary, Television »
The question for me, however, is not whether Ernie and Bert are a gay couple. I will admit that years ago I wrote a short story about the two puppets as actors on the show with their own off-camera life as a couple, talking about how they wished they could be “out” on Sesame Street… however, it was not an expression of my desire for them to reveal any such truth on the show. I wrote it after reading a news story similar to the ones generated by the petitions to have the characters marry now that gay marriage has been legalized in our state. An independent film had been shown at a festival in which it was satirically suggested that Ernie and Bert were gay. Then, as now, it was not the suggestion itself, but rather to The Children’s Television Workshop’s response to the suggestion that had got me riled.
You know those questions that just kind of smack you in the face? Not because they make you realize something about the way that you think, but because they make you realize something about the ways other people don’t think. It took a moment to sink in that my friend saw these three categories –Judaism, feminism, and queerness — as separate and independent entities, and believed that my combining them was a chosen path, one I could just as easily eschew.
Commentary, Media »
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Mark Zuckerberg. In part, this is because I recently saw, finally, the fictionalized account of the story of Facebook: “The Social Network,” written by Aaron Sorkin. There’s another reason though, something I recently found out about Zuckerberg: he and I went to camp together. This is not namedropping, or bragging, or trying to create a connection where there is none. Zuckerberg and I didn’t know each other at camp, though looking at Facebook I found that he and I do have two mutual friends from there. I don’t remember him, and he doesn’t remember me. So, yeah, big deal. Who cares?
Sunday morning, I woke up early, packed up my bag with water and granola bars, and hopped on the subway toward Manhattan to fulfill an obligation commanded by my God and my religion.
I exited at City Hall and started walking toward Worth Street. It was about 8:30 in the morning, and already muggy. Turning the corner and walking toward the NYC clerk’s office, I soon saw the telltale signs of what was happening where I was heading.
Personal Narratives »
As I looked around this room, however, at my classmates, at these young women with whom I was to study in the coming year, there was no one with whom I felt myself engaged, connected, competitive. All I saw and all I felt was judgement. It was with a shock that I realized that the entire foundation of what I called feminism was little more than internalized misogyny. Until that point in my life, though I wouldn’t have phrased it as such, my feminism had been based in wanting to be treated as a full human being despite being female. It wasn’t until that one powerful moment, alone among women, feeling the condescending judgement of my own gaze, that I realized where I had always been going wrong. It was time for me to beging to value women as women, whatever that was to mean. Further, it was time for me to value myself as a person as a woman, and to learn what that means. That is how my real feminist journey began.
I went to my first Pride parade years ago, when I was a young scared little queerling of 22 or 23. I went to my second two weeks ago. What happened in the intervening years? Well, very little. At that first Pride parade, I felt out of place. I came looking for belonging, but didn’t belong there. It was so loud, so audacious. So… So prideful. I thought at the time that the problem was with the raw sexuality on display. The barely clothed men dancing on so many of the floats, bare breasted women throwing social mores (along with their bras) to the wind, doms and subs doing things with chains whips and leashes in public… It all made me uncomfortable. Why couldn’t these people just be normal? Where were the normal queers like me who didn’t want to make a big deal out of their sexuality, but just wanted to gather and exist comfortably? In retrospect, I think the concept I had a hard time with was Pride itself. I didn’t really understand what there was to be proud of.