At a relaunch party at the Jewish Museum of Maryland on Nov. 3, the LGBTQ organization JQ Baltimore announced that its new name is JPride Baltimore, and unveiled a new rainbow-colored logo to go with it.
According to co-founder and board member Mindy Dickler, an Orthodox mother of a gay son, although “JQ” has served the group well, “JPride” will open more doors.
“When we first got started in 2012, we chose the name JQ Baltimore, which stood for Jewish Queer Baltimore,” said Dickler. “The word ‘queer’ was historically a derogatory word. However, it has been reclaimed in recent generations by the LGBT community as a word they identify pleasantly with. It’s sort of a catch-all word to cover and all letters in of LGBTQIA.” (The “I” stands for intersex and the “A” for asexual.)
There was some pushback about the previous name, according to Dickler, because of the former negative connotation of the word “queer,” so the group decided “pride” would prove to be a more welcoming title.
“We wanted to come up with a name that was totally inclusive. Inclusivity is a big part of what we stand for,” said Dickler. “The word ‘pride’ just has a very positive connotation, and there’s no doubt that when we’re talking about pride, we’re talking about LGBT inclusion and support and the positive things associated with that.”
Close to 40 people attended the party, which began with an outdoor Havdalah service led by Cantor Gary Schiff, the religious leader at the Eastern Shore-based Chestertown Havurah, and featured a performance by Dana Friedman, a self-identified Orthodox Jewish transsexual comedian based in New York City.
For Justin Fair, 30, who identifies as gay, the LGBTQIA outreach from Beth Am Synagogue, where he’s been a member for three years, and the JPride Baltimore launch party have been a dose of optimism.
“To see that there’s a growing demand for Jewish queer socializing amongst the 20s-to-40s crowd is really uplifting,” he said via email. “To see they have the chutzpah to rebrand shows me they’ve got bigger goals. I’m really looking forward to getting to know the organization and its committees further.”
The rebrand is more than a name change. Dickler said that a shift from being a lay-led organization to funding a paid staff person is “a major thing we seek to change in the next several months.”
“We’ve been around since 2012 and loads and loads of people in the community, Jewish and otherwise didn’t know we existed,” she said. “We’ve been in the grassroots, startup stage for quite some time. But we feel it’s time to come out and make people aware.”