Dr. Amy Milligan came to Wesleyan to speak about queer Jewish women and pride tattoos this past Thursday. A crowd of about sixty students, staff, and guests flocked to the Blocker Hall Auditorium for her presentation. Dr. Milligan is the Batten Endowed Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies and Women’s Studies and the director of the Institute of Jewish Studies and Interfaith Understanding at Old Dominion University. “There’s a side of me that says identity is important for everyone and anything that highlights the challenges of intersecting identities is absolutely wonderful. So much of what of what we deal with at the center [Center for the Study of Religious Freedom] comes from when people have conflict, having people negotiate it, but frequently conflict we have is internal.” Dr. Craig Wansink, director of the Center for the Study of Religious Freedom, said.
Dr. Milligan’s presentation showcased the struggle of having an intersecting identity. She shared stories of young, queer Jews and their struggle to find a symbol that accurately depicted their two worlds. Dr. Milligan spoke about how hard it was for Jewish lesbians specifically to find a symbol to represent both their sexuality and their religion.
During the 2017 Chicago Dyke March, a group of queer Jewish women brought a rainbow flag with the Star of David overlayed on top. These women were asked to leave. Milligan used the story of the women at the Dyke March to pose the question of what symbols are there for queer Jews. While many queer Jews are using the pink triangle as their representative symbol it can still be considered problematic since it was used during the Holocaust to indicate a gay male. “I never knew how hard it would be to find a symbol that represents being both queer and Jewish. When she [Dr. Milligan] was talking, I kept thinking that it must be awful to feel like nothing truly represents you,” Sophomore Jay Blevins said.