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Rick Landman: "Gay, Jewish, German, and Proud."
Rick Landman is a gay, Jewish son of two German Holocaust survivors. He is passionate about history and talks about many intense, even painful subjects, yet he intersperses his topics with a lot of humor. And where some might brag about their accomplishments, Landman prefaces his by noting that he is 5’2”, then goes on to say that he wants young people to know that “one little person can really make a change.” Landman has been responsible for a lot of change.
On Thursday, Oct. 22 at 6:00 pm in the Kirby Ballroom, Landman will speak on “Gay, Jewish, German, and Proud: Insights from a Gay Activist Son of Holocaust Survivors” and his forthcoming book Ich Bin Ein New Yorker. This event kicks off Landman’s National Reconciliation Tour. It is sponsored by the UMD Queer and Allied Students Union; GLBT Services; UMD Center for Genocide, Holocaust and Human Rights Studies; Kirby Program Board; and Baumler-Kaplan Holocaust Commemoration Committee; and is free and open to the public.
Much of Landman’s humor comes from his awareness of the contradictions in his life. He grew up in Queens, New York, in the 1950s and describes his parents as “Ozzie and Harriet with a German accent.” He was Jewish in a Jewish neighborhood but, being of German ancestry, became aware that after World War II many people, and most Jews, hated Germans.
In the early 1960s, when most homosexuals were “in the closet”, Landman asked his Hebrew School teacher if there was a blessing for two men to get married. He wryly adds that this question altered his life.
In 1970, Landman started the Gay Liberation Front at his college, the University of Buffalo New York, which was one of the first Gay and Lesbian student organizations in the country. The following year, he helped to organize the First Statewide March on Albany for Gay Rights and in 1979 the First March on Washington, D.C. for Lesbian and Gay Rights.
Healing and Reconciliation
Many of Landman’s relatives were murdered in the Nazi concentration camps during World War II. Yet, Landman’s family story is ultimately one of survival and transcendence. His father was sent to Dachau concentration camp on Kristallnacht in November 1938. Remarkably he was able to obtain a visa and leave Europe. A few years later, Landman’s father returned as a U.S. Army soldier, helped to liberate Dachau, and was the first American soldier to enter his hometown of Augsburg, Germany.
Landman has worked to foster healing and reconciliation. In the early 1990s, Landman founded the International Association of Lesbian and Gay Children of Holocaust Survivors. He has worked to create several monuments for Jewish and other victims of the Nazi Era, including an attempt to have all of the victims of the Nazi era memorialized at the New York City Holocaust Memorial Park.
In 2005, Landman donated a German Torah (that was given to him by his grandfather who brought it to America) to a synagogue in Munich. In 2007, he re-instated his right to be a German citizen ---- and now enjoys dual citizenship with the U.S. and Germany.
“If We Don’t Study Our Own History, Who Will?”
Landman wants young people, both gay and straight, to know more about gay history, believing, "past atrocities will repeat unless we learn the lessons from the past." He specifically challenges LGBT students to learn more about the LGBT people who came before them. Paraphrasing Hillel, Landman asks, “if we don’t study our own history, who will?" He went to say, "we need to make sure that NEVER AGAIN includes preventing violence and discrimination against all innocent people, and we need to start now.” Landman encourages all people to embrace diversity and “to have more tolerance of individual differences.”
The Queer and Allied Students Union (QASU) is a student association. QASU offers a place for queer students and allies to network, organize, educate, advocate, and have fun. QASU holds weekly meetings and hosts cultural events and speakers throughout the year. QASU’s mission is to celebrate the diversity and culture of the queer community, educate the campus community on issues pertinent to the lives of queer students, empower queer individuals and organizations, and advocate for inclusion and equity of all persons regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or gender expression. QASU is located at 270 E Multicultural Center. For more information, visit the QASU website at http://www.d.umn.edu/~qasu or contact email@example.com or by phone at 218-726-7041.
Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender (GLBT) Services office (listed among the top 100 LGBT friendly colleges and universities in the U.S.) provides individualized services such as information/referral, advocacy, education, consultation and coordination for the UMD campus community and local population regarding GLBT issues. This office serves students, faculty, staff and alumni and general referrals and information to community members. GLBT Services is located in the Kirby Student Center, Room 245 Ctr. For more information, visit the GLBT Services website http://www.d.umn.edu/mlrc/glbt/ or contact Angela C. Nichols, Director, GLBT Services at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 218-726-7300.
Written by Kathleen McQuillan-Hofmann, email@example.com
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