Rafi Daugherty is our Pride Community Liaison here at the JCC Denver.

As a Jewish transgender man and father of two children, we believe Rafi is a priceless resource to our J community. Being at the forefront of the Queer Jewish community, we thought it’d be extremely beneficial to have him answer some common questions about Pride Month–including how he and his family celebrate Pride, and what we can look forward to at the Denver Pride March this Sunday.

What does “Pride” mean to you?

Rafi Daugherty: I remember taking some time feeling challenged by the Pride concept…why am I proud of being trans and queer? Wasn’t I “born this way”? Pride should be about achievements, not things we’re gifted at birth. It took me chewing on these thoughts awhile before I came up with the following: it’s not that I’m proud of having been born queer or trans. It’s pride in the courage it took to really stand in those identities and come out and show the world the most authentic version of myself. It’s pride in staying alive and healthy despite an oppressive background, culture, and current political climate. Despite being rejected by close friends and family. Despite losing access to communities I once called home. I have experienced these painful losses and still can live my life as myself and be happy doing so. I can be proud of my resilience.

How do you and your family celebrate Pride Month?

RD: I tend to steer somewhat away from “Hallmark Holidays” and other commercialized celebrations so I’m not Mr. Pride 2018, but I do enjoy decking my family out in some rainbows and participating in Pride Shabbat and marching with the Jewish community in the parade when I can. I try to bring awareness to the allies in the Jewish community that they can stand and march with us to show their support and be with us in the fight for equality.

If someone has never marched in the Denver Pride March, what might they expect? How can they show solidarity with the LGBTQI community?

RD: WEAR SUNSCREEN AND BRING WATER. There will be so many amazing groups and cool people. Folks go all out for Pride and might be dressed up or dressed WAY down. Expect anything. Marching with friends and family is definitely recommended. The more the merrier! If you are a straight ally, bring or hold a supportive sign to let folks know that you’re there. Some of my most powerful moments at Pride have been reading signs of solidarity, love, and support from family and friends. We will have some signs printed from the Keshet website at the parade that you can hold if you’d like.

What actions can we take to celebrate Pride all year long? Besides the events that take place in June, how else can our community support LGBTQI individuals?

RD: – Make sure your synagogue, workplace, home, school etc. are welcoming spaces for LGBTQI individuals and families (do your forms assume gender and sexual orientation? Do you have gender-neutral bathrooms? Are there any signs or symbols that would indicate that space is welcoming of all identities? Do you hire out queer people on your staff? Do you financially support queer events/initiatives/organizations?).
– Use social media to spread supportive articles or ways that the queer community might need support.
– Show up for your LGBTQI friends and families by voting for politicians who care about our lives.
– November 20 is Transgender Day of Remembrance. While we revel in our celebration of pride in June, we also remember that transgender individuals are still suffering high rates of murder, suicide, mental illness, abuse, unemployment, housing discrimination, etc. every day. Transgender women of color suffer the most from this systemic violence. Use your privilege to lift up their voices whenever possible and support the organizations that are working toward mutual liberation for all.

Thank you so much, Rafi, for being such a great voice for LGBTQI individuals. We’re lucky to have you as a part of our community.