In late January and early February, Jewish studies graduate student Gregg Drinkwater visited two archives in New York City to do research toward his dissertation. Supported by a Barry and Sue Baer Graduate Fellowship, Drinkwater conducted research at the American Jewish Historical Society and the archive of the LGBT Community Center in New York. Drinkwater is a doctoral student in U.S. history writing a dissertation exploring the social and cultural history of the encounters between American Judaism and homosexuality in the post-World War II era. As the first scholar to undertake such research, his work will help explain how the American Jewish community and gay Jews navigated the tension between Judaism’s traditional regulation of sexuality, and the increasingly visible role for gay and lesbian people in American society in the decades after the war.
Drinkwater’s research in New York centered on discussions about gay civil rights found in the records of the American Jewish Congress, along with the institutional records of New York City’s gay synagogue, the world’s largest (founded in 1973) and the records of the World Congress of GLBT Jews, an international umbrella organization founded in 1976. While in New York, Drinkwater also conducted an interview with one of the founders of the World Congress of GLBT Jews.