Challah if you queer me

When you’re a teenager—or, more maturely, a young adult—you are completely at the Mertzy of the meshugenahs that are your mishpocheh. Yeah, I know—I’ve got some ’splainin’ to do. On the sunny side, I’ve got minimal complainin’ to do. At least in regards to my coming out, which happened the gay—uh, day—before the first night of my sixteenth Hanukkah.

So, picture a nostalgic nuclear family, not unlike the kind you’d find on a black-and-white boob tube. “Which episode should we enjoy this evening?” Dad queries, perusing a pile of VHS tapes. “‘Job Switching’? ‘Lucy Does a TV Commercial’?‘Lucy and Ethel Buy the Same Dress’?”

“How about ‘Gaycation from Marriage’?” I suggest, my stomach twisting like a shofar.

Mom schmears cream cheese on a Tam Tam, as if daring me to make like a matzo and crack. “Is that the one,” she asks,noshing on the hexagon, “where the gals are quarreling with the guys and Lucy asks Ethel if she wishes there were something else to marry besides men and Ethel answers ‘F yes!’ or something a little more fifties-friendly?”

“No, that’s the one where Lucy and Ethel take a hiatus from their husbands and move in with each other,” Dad mansplains in his customary chivalrous manner. “Then one night, they get all gussied up and pay a visit to their spouses, and Lucy says she hopes Ricky and Fred have as gay an evening as she and Ethel are planning on having and then… Wait.” As Dad’s synopsis stops, his eyes grow wider than yarmulkes.

The size of Mom’s eyes matches macaroons—suspiciously smaller.

There’s an explosion of silence, unheard of in a Jewish household.

Suddenly, I feel like the filling in a blueberry blintz: ready to come out at the slightest provocation.

“Mom, Dad,” I address my absurdly attentive audience, “I have some seriously super news to share: I’m gay.”

Now I hope and wait—and worry that I’ve just committed a Sapph-faux pas.

How will my family react to my declaration of lesbi-independence?

Will they regard me like schmutz on a schmatte?

Kiss my keppie like everything’s kosher?

Or offer some verkakte-mamie advice like: “Don’t be daffy, Allie. At least date a non-goy boy before you make it official!”?

While Mom and Dad—or, more formally, Judy and Steve—turn their wheels like Tevye’s mik cart, I start schvitzing like an ice cold bottle of Dr. Brown’s cream soda. Maybe they’ll do a bottle dance in honor of the unexpected uncapping of my secret?

And then…Judy winks at Steve, and it becomes queer—uh, clear—that the abba who knows best has been looking to the ima who knows better for approval.

I should’ve known Mom knows.

In our house, we don’t practice Judaism.

We practice Judyism.

“Better late than straight,” the aforementioned menschguffaws.

“Take me to the WC—the water closet being the only acceptable kind—and call me relieved!” Dad cavorts, his dance a maniacal mishmash of the Horah and the Hokey Pokey.

“Now we don’t have to fret about you knocking boots and getting knocked up,” Mom marvels, twirling with equivalent merriment.

“And I don’t have to compete with another fellow for your attention,” Dad discovers. “I have the privilege of being the only man in my little girl’s life.”

I must be hearing things—which is good, I guess, since I’m hard-of-hearing—but my parents don’t really think that my similarities to Sappho are boffo, do they? I mean, it’s not like Ianticipated yelling, but I definitely did not foresee this degree of glee and kvelling.

“The point is, Allie,” Judy says, and I brace myself, because the woman makes more points than a Star of David, “we have bupkis to worry about.”

Dad’s face contorts as if he’s just imbibed his first spoonful of Vitameatavegamin. “Nothing at all?” he kvetches.

“Don’t worry—we’ll think of something,” Mom pledges, and Dad perks up pronto.

But then, much to my chagrin—though thank heaven for hearing impairment—they begin to sing a vibrant, validating, verbose version of the I Love Lucy theme song. “I love lezzie and she loves me / Queer as happy as two can be / And chaim is heaven, you see / ’Cause I love lezzie / Yes, I love lezzie / And lezzie loves me!”

“Oh, honey,” Mom coos, until something shoos the smile off her face. “Stand up straight, my little mezuzah,” she demands. “The one and only thing we expect to be straight about you is your posture.” I sigh but comply, her cue to reply with a harrumph of triumph. “Oh, honey, you’re home.”

As my parents embrace me, squashing me like the childhood of a girl at her Bat Mitzvah, I realize that the bloom isn’t off all the heteros. In fact, just because one’s family isnuclear, doesn’t mean they’ll go nuclear at the news that there’s a lavender menace in their midst.

“You know,” Dad muses, “we should have our own family-friendly TV show: The Lucy-Lezzie Comedy Hour.”

“I can see the episodes now!” Mom enthuses. “‘Wonder of Wonder, Queer-acle of Queer-acles,’ ‘Lucy and Ethel Put the Lez in Klezmer,’ and the Hanukkah special to end all Hanukkah specials…‘The Labia Menorah’!”

And with that, I am out.

By Allison Fradkin


My feathers are not your fishing lure

My tick box won’t buy you favour

The pot at the end of my rainbow

Is full of riches you didn’t pay for

Don’t bank on my love; it’s not yours

Don’t try sell me my own heart

And before you offer me support


Are you just playing the part?

Did you fight for this glory?

Have you weathered the undesirable stares?

Or do you feel lucky, no – relieved

When the awkward questions are spared?

Parity, not charity, that’s what I want

You don’t get snaps for joining a fad

When it matters, you’re nonchalant

So, keep my rainbow out of your ad

The Hourglass

CW: Car accident, death

This was her hourglass, and when I flip it over, I can hear her voice, bickering with me about how long to boil an egg. Telling me I’ve thought long enough, and it’s time to put the Scrabble letters on the board. Asking me to tell her when the time’s up so that she can pour the perfect four-minute cup of tea. Laughing as I time her putting up her waist length hair to go to work. Insisting that she was only going to be out in the garden for five minutes, and grinning when she came back to find me standing in the doorway, hourglass in hand.

It was in my pocket that night. I was home before her, and I was getting ready to make bread. I’d mixed the yeast and the warm water and the sugar. The timer was broken, so I’d decided to let the hourglass run through four times to give the mixture time to froth. It wasn’t really necessary but watching the sand run through the glass in the sleepy warm afternoon sunshine was soothing, almost hypnotic. The sound of the crash took a moment to work its way into my befuddled head.

It was all done by the time I got to the garden gate. A man sat inside the deep red Jaguar, his hair falling forwards, his face blank and white. And tucked underneath the gleaming front bumper, her bicycle. She was face down, still and quiet, her tweed skirt rucked up around her knees, her white silk shirt growing pink. And a cascade of late cabbage roses and heady sweet peas scattered around her. When I close my eyes, all I can see is her pink lace slip, her favourite, almost frivolous under the hem of her sensible skirt.

The ambulance arrived in seconds, or in days, I’m not quite sure which, and I was shooed away by the capable and set-faced men in uniform. We didn’t have a car, but Mr Jenkins, our neighbour, drove me over to the hospital.

They wouldn’t let me in to see her. I was only her landlady, the spinster she shared a house with. I found the hourglass in my pocket – it must have been in my hand as I ran out of the door. It was wrapped tight in my fingers when I heard her voice, quiet, tense, asking for me. But still they wouldn’t let me in. All they wanted to know from me was whether she had any family, and where they were. I told them what I knew.

They left me alone, and I turned the hourglass over and over, but I didn’t hear her voice any more. I must have dozed in that hard wooden chair, because the next I heard was an auxiliary, rubber-soled shoes squeaking on the polished floor, with an elderly woman on her arm. Later, a frantic call for a nurse, running feet, and then a doctor, walking quietly, a man in no hurry. And I knew.

On the long, cold bus journey home, the hourglass turned and glinted under my fingers, under the early morning streetlights, and all I could think was at least she didn’t die alone.

Her brother came to clear her things, and he treated me civilly, distantly. No discomfort, just the politeness reserved for staff. He told me about the funeral, and seemed surprised when I turned up. I sat at the back, looking at the grieving family in the front two rows. I said my silent goodbyes. And I never had another… tenant.

I’ve still got the hourglass, and now, watching the sand running though, it feels I’m seeing my future running through into my past. I might give it to my niece, when she marries her girlfriend next weekend, in the registry office right next to the beautiful park. We will have a picnic in the sunshine, she said. I might tell her what I have told no-one else, about the woman who, in a different life, could have been her aunt. I think they might understand.

By Suzanne Elvidge

This is an open letter to the gay guys who grab my boobs when they’re drunk|Monologues March

“This is an open letter to the gay guys who grab my boobs when they’re drunk” – Written by Emily Powers and performed by Ellis Busby as part of Queerativity’s Monologues March.

Queerativity’s Monologues March involves showcasing a number of LGBTQ+ Monologues throughout March. Would you like to be involved? Email [email protected]

Autumnal Haikus

These anonymously submitted Autumnal Haikus, paired with Madeleine Leisk’s beautiful illustrations, conclude Queerativity’s Halloween-themed features wonderfully. Madeleine’s artwork can be purchased as cards on her Etsy page here.

their eyes are autumn 

changes with the bitter breeze 

i will keep them warm.

the dying season 

maybe this part of me can

finally be free. 

pumpkin sculpting done

carve holes out of me and then

maybe i can pass.

want a cup of tea?

just one of the many ways

you say i love you.


They say that we enchant.
I know she enchants me
With those eyes
Wise eyes of tree bark
Entwined with poison ivy.

They chant “dark magic”
But we scream love.
Potions of waning leaves,
And witching hour kisses
Under withering stars.

They point paranoid fingers
As we twist each-others matted braids.
We conjure intoxicating romance
And command the roots, the buds,
To scatter wreaths across our hearts.

They grab their pitchforks
As we lie in beds of sanguine sage,
Heal our rosemary love.

Vials of hydrangea at our door
Dye our clothes the colours
They want to drown us.

They won’t see us leave
Flying under violet skies
Together and free.
Hunt us not,
Those who do not grasp

Our ember love.

By Molly Knox.

First Kiss Poem

Is it meant to be like this?

Two faces are pushed together 

and we call it a kiss?

Two tongues are mushed and squished,

back and forth,

forth and back.

My sweaty palms reach 

for his body to balance myself

but I still feel unstable.

There’s so much going on


still not enough.

My moment hasn’t arrived,

no sparks ignited,

I try and feel for some butterflies but

it seems as though they’ve all died.

The fireworks lay sleeping like my heart,

I listen out for a beat but she is still




I don’t really like this?

But it seems he does and he wants more.

Maybe I’m just immature

or maybe I’m just unsure

There’s a first time for everything but also a second,

third, fourth, fifth.

I feel like there should be something more

but every time I fall short.

My love does not grow, instead the only thing increasing

is the pressure from being around him.

He asks for a walk.

It’d be nice to talk.

However the only movement from his lips come from leaning 

towards mine.

I guess I’m not good enough for a simple conversation

and so this continues.

And so my insecurities stay sealed to my lips

where I believe they belong.


Only to be voiced later on to an unsympathetic ear.

Confused as I am

when I question.

Is it meant to be like this?

By Phoebe Wiseman.


Rainbows sit in my wardrobe

next to white skittles, 

confetti remains and oversized whistles

used breathlessly to make sound waves ripple

past opposers and their prejudice. 

beneath are fabricated alibis

beside the free condoms are endless reasons why

my friend had removed the makeup from around her eyes

before we reached the car.  

Rainbows dance through my music

my library flowing with contrasting beats

with girls singing love songs and the pronouns are “she”

when the house is deserted, consists solely of me;

i’d put on that hidden playlist.

in the songs that i write i might mention a her

and the pot of my brain grabs a whisk, starts to stir

i’ll look through the lyrics and clearly there were

no mention, at all, of boys.

Rainbows fly around my neck

around a little necklace of which i share

with someone who i deeply care

hiding beneath jumpers that we swap and share

or clashing when our lips interlock.

after plotting and planning and rigorous review

collarbone will locate my first tattoo

mum would be furious if ever she knew

of the intertwining venus symbols.

Rainbows dominate my wall

a flag of pride that’s made it’s journey

accompanied by love and pain and learning

promising to not reject questions concerning 

the Rainbows in my heart. 

Perfectly Happy

In the mirror I don’t see me.

In the mirror I see what society wants of me.

Straight hair,

straight teeth,

straight A’s,


Straight to the point I must say I am not that,

I cannot be that.

Every day we strive for the impossible.

We suppress not express and

in the panic for popularity and beauty,

we forget our duty

to ourselves.

Don’t be what society wants.

Don’t be what you have been told to want.

Be you.

Be true

to the person hidden beneath years of expectations.

Be brave enough to say

“I don’t know”.

Be strong of mind

not muscle.

Be strong enough to say,

I’m not “your” perfect

I’m perfectly happy

By Cameron Kelsey.