Project Description

Gustavo

Gustavo Michanie of JAG, Buenos Aires, graciously agreed to be interviewed by David Azouley from the World Congress.  JAG sent a link to the trailer of the movie “Other among Others,” which might be of interest to our readers around the world.

 

En Español

1- First of all, we would like to learn a little bit more about you. What is your personal and organizational background? What are your motivations for volunteering with JAG (Judios Argentinos Gay -LGBTIQ)?

My name is Gustavo Michanie, I am 47 years old, I come from a traditional Sephardic Orthodox family from Buenos Aires, and was always closely linked to the Jewish community, I have actively participated in communitarian spaces since I was very young. When I grew older and reached my sexual awakening, I felt that what happened to me was not the same that happened to my friends because my sexual orientation was different to theirs. I came out of the closet when I was 20, I did it first with a group of friends and then with my family.
When I was 35 I heard about a group of friends that had created a space for Jewish gay people, therefore I joined J.A.G. Over the years I felt that what motivated me most to be there, was the  creation of a place for  LGBTIQ people within our community, assuming that becoming visible within  our institution was going to help to build a bridge with the rest of the Jewish community.

2- Could you introduce your association to our readers? Its history?  Its mission?  Its philosophy?

JAG was born in 2004 out of the  need of a group of friends, who could not find within the framework  of the Jewish Community the recognition of the existence of LGBTIQ people. So they gathered in order to create a place at which their LGBTIQ members could find a safe and friendly spot with Jewish traditions and could grow, develop and restore their lost bonds with the community because of their different sexual orientation.

3- What are the main activities of your organization?

JAG was born in 2004 out of the  need of a group of friends, who could not find within the framework of the Jewish Community the recognition of the existence of LGBTIQ people. So they gathered in order to create a place at which their LGBTIQ members could find a safe and friendly spot with Jewish traditions and could grow, develop and restore their lost bonds with the community because of their different sexual orientation.

4- The first LGBTIQ Jewish wedding in Latin America has been celebrated last month in Buenos Aires. Could you tell us more about this event?

In JAG, unlike other LGBTIQ institutions around the world, we work for the inclusion of our group in any community, since we do not want to be a ghetto within the ghetto, we believe our work is to provide tools to all Jewish institutions, so that they can deal themselves with the topic of Diversity, wishing that spaces like JAG, would someday cease to exist because they are no longer needed.
The way to reach the Jewish Same Sex marriage was a process that took many years because, first of all, a national law had to be approved in Argentina allowing such unions, this happened in 2010.
From then on we started to work in order to consider the  application of the Rabbinical Assembly Responsum 2006/2012  which granted the right to perform Jupa [huppah] blessings to same-sex couples, so it was that when the girls expressed their wish to get married  we started talks and discussions  with some  rabbis to see in what way  that Responsum could be considered and applied in one of their communities.  Then after a period of study and consideration at which the board of members of the institution actively participated the performance of a same sex Jupa was unanimously approved.

5- Could you describe to our readers the situation of LGBTIQ Jews in Argentina? What is their degree of inclusion in the mainstream Jewish community?

We have been growing over these 12 years in a way that  was hard to imagine when we JAG was founded in 2004.

We have been invited in our early years by the JDC (American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee) to the Meetings of Leaders of institutions and communities in Latin America and the Caribbean, that paced the way for us  not only  to be known internationally , but we also started to have greater visibility in our country.

In 2007 we joined the Network of Judaica Foundation, being one of its nodes; FJ is a network of institutions working individually and collectively towards the diversity of all kinds.

In 2010 we worked along with the LGBTIQ Federation of Argentina providing our knowledge, helping and opening the debate in the Community, for the enactment of the Same Sex Marriage Act.

At the end of 2014 JAG was recognized, accepted and included by the Delegation of Israelite Associations Argentina D.A.I.A. as an institution working against anti-Semitism and a strong commitment in the struggle against all forms of discrimination.

6- The Argentinean law for transgender has been recognized globally as one of the most advanced in the world.  Could you explain to our readers what makes this law so unique and why it happened in your country?

The Law of Gender Identity in Argentina, allows Trans people (transvestites, transsexuals and transgender) to be registered in their ID with the name and sex of their choice, and all medical treatments can be carried out in order to match the gender expression, therefore they are included in the PMO (Compulsory Medical Program), which guarantees practices throughout the health system, both public and private.
This actually happened in a country where there was the political will to grant the same rights to all its citizens, and in this case it is recognized that the sole will or need of the individual is enough without having to resort to medical opinions.

7- Your organization is one of the four candidates that expressed interest in hosting a future board meeting of the World Congress in 2017.  Could you tell us briefly how you imagine this event?

We really want to share all the achievements JAG and the LGBTIQ community have had in recent years in Argentina, we as an institution have always cooperated sharing our experience and our knowledge. And now we think it is time that the WC come to our home since we have always traveled and supported the various meetings of the WC. We want to show the WC the way we did things based on respect and inclusion relying on education to change millenary cultural stereotypes.

8- Could you tell us why it is important for JAG to be part of the World Congress? Would you have a message you want to convey to our members?

When I first heard about the World Congress, I thought that becoming a member of it might be highly favorable for us since they could support our growth as Jewish Gays.
Therefore we travelled and supported all the meetings we could attend. We have always had a positive impression derived from the fact that other organizations of the world shared their expertise and gave us encouragement for the achievement of our main goal which was, and still is the struggle to have LGBTIQ people recognized as part of the Jewish world.
We have always considered the WC as an institution that helped the LGBTIQ Jews of the World to achieve common goals such as equal rights and inclusion within the communities they belong to.
We are extremely pleased by the fact of being contacted by this new WC Steering Committee that not only greets us but congratulates us as well for our achievements. That strengthens our ties and gives us the wonderful feeling not only of being backed but also makes us envision plans for future joint activities.
Let us not forget the principle that says, “Kol Yisrael areivim zeh la-zeh,” “All the Jewish people is responsible for each other.”
It would be wonderful to reach the day that these meetings, apart from strengthening our ties and exchange our experiences, come to an end, where there be no need to join forces because our rights are finally like any others and thus be attending any Jewish encounter as one more, which is a huge challenge To be just one more attendant.

JAG (Judios Argentinos Gay -LGBTIQ)

jag1

JAG (Judios Argentinos Gay -LGBTIQ)