In honour of Cape Town Pride 2020 (17-28 February), LGBTQIA+ activist Jacqui Benson and the Cape Board are joining hands to expand the Jacob Gitlin Library’s queer literature section.
Jacqui started this project independent of an organisation towards the end of 2019 when she co-founded a Jewish reading group called A Rainbow Thread with Mitchel Joffe Hunter. The group is named after Noam Sienna’s anthology of the same name, a collection of more than a hundred sources on the intersection of Jewish and queer identities.
“Working our way through this anthology, I began to consider what the Jacob Gitlin Library has on offer for people like us,” Jacqui said.
Jacqui is a passionate member of the Jacob Gitlin Library and enjoys exploring its many sections.
“I got excited at the thought of more personally-relatable books being available in this space, and started reaching out to authors who write the kind of literature I’m missing in Jewish spaces.”
To date, former Constitutional Court judge Edwin Cameron has gladly donated and gifted his books to Jacqui’s library drive, saying he feels honoured to have been approached.
“Melanie Judge was also very affirming of my idea,” Jacqui said.
“These donations will not just be books off home bookshelves but will stand alongside the works of prominent community members.
“The goal is to deepen the level of understanding society has for LGBTQIA+ identified people, that we as a community can support people who, regardless of their religious views, are human beings grappling with myriad questions on identity. I want to create the opportunity for people who have never had to question their identity and never had to question related concepts for themselves to engage safely, learn, and gain an understanding from the literature that shares these life experiences.
“These are the conversations we need to be having. We’ve been raised in a heteronormative world, and we need to understand this world doesn’t include everybody. We’re at risk of alienating a lot of people if we continue to keep this world in place.”
While the initiative is being dedicated to Cape Town Pride 2020, the Cape Board is partnering with Jacqui on an ongoing basis to enrich the Jacob Gitlin Library with more diverse and representative books. We’re calling on the community to help source or donate queer literature, film and music.
To donate, get in touch with Janine Rodgers on 021 462 5088. We want to tell your stories, so if you’re getting involved in the initiative, also reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re LGBTQIA+ identified and would like to join A Rainbow Thread, contact Jacqui Benson on email@example.com or reach out to the Facebook group ‘Jewish LGBTIQA and their Allies’.