Group aims to create an inclusive community for LGBT young adults.
One year ago, Sam Dubin, 24, of West Bloomfield took a brave step and a leap of faith. He shared the deeply personal news that he is gay with family members and his closest friends. Dubin, an active member of the Jewish community and director of sales and marketing for his family’s dry cleaning and laundry business, says the news came as a surprise to some, but the overwhelming response he received was love, support and encouragement.
That is not always the case for members of the LGBTQA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, ally) community. “Ally” refers to someone who is straight or heterosexual who supports equal civil rights and LGBT social movements.
“I had a very supportive coming-out experience,” Dubin says. “As the Jewish community, we can provide a loving atmosphere whether a person’s immediate family does or not.”
In an effort to create an inclusive community, Dubin and fellow board members of NEXTGen Detroit are launching NEXTGen Detroit Pride. Their goal is to “serve as a welcoming gateway into the Jewish community for LGBTQA young adults looking for connections and a supportive atmosphere to explore everything Jewish Detroit has to offer.”
“We are celebrating the launch with a happy hour event on Tuesday, May 31, and we’re hoping for a great turnout,” said Becky Hurvitz, online content strategist for NEXTGen Detroit. “We feel this is history in the making and a definitive step in creating an inclusive community for all young Jewish adults here in Metro Detroit.”
Dubin says, to his knowledge, this is the first-ever local group specifically for Jewish LGBTQA young adults. While he is not certain exactly how many participants the initiative will attract, close to 40 people have already expressed interest or are planning to attend the happy hour event at Pronto! in Royal Oak.
“Both volunteers and staff of NEXTGen Detroit felt there was a need for a space for young, Jewish adults who either identify as LGBT or as allies of the LGBT community,” explained Stefanie Tuzman, director of NEXTGen Detroit.
“We want Jewish adults in the Detroit area to feel comfortable within their own community and have a group of peers who support them. By launching NEXTGen Detroit Pride, we want to reach a population of young, Jewish adults who are, in our opinion, currently underserved. One of our overarching goals is to help young Jewish LGBT adults feel welcome at all of our events.”
The kickoff happy hour on Tuesday, May 31, takes place from 6-8 p.m. at Pronto!, 608 S. Washington Ave. in Royal Oak. Anyone between the ages of 21-45 is invited to participate. The cost is $5 per person, including one drink ticket and appetizers.
“We wanted our first event to be a social outing so people can meet one another,” Tuzman said. “In addition to socializing, we plan to speak about this new initiative and tell our participants what NEXTGen Detroit Pride is all about. We also want to hear from them about what they’d like to see from this program.”
Future plans include a bagel brunch and group outing to the Motor City Pride parade in June, game nights and also possible involvement in policy issues down the road.
“There is still a lot of inequality out there,” Dubin said. “I think [this initiative] has the power to do a lot of good.” *
To register for the NEXTGen Detroit Pride happy hour visit https://jewishdetroit.org/event/nextgen-detroit-pride. For additional information, contact Stefanie Tuzman at email@example.com.
By Robin Schwartz, Special to the Jewish News