I’m a lesbian Bukharian Jew. Can I exist?

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After I came out as a lesbian, my mother embraced me with open arms. She loved me, and this didn’t change that. But she knew — and I knew — that I had to leave my gayness at the door when entering Bukharian spaces. Like in many immigrant communities, homosexuality is still taboo.

Bukharian Jews originally came from Central Asia. As we made our way through the Diaspora, like many other Mizrahi Jews, our culture absorbed a lot from the non-Jewish peoples around us. We speak a form of Judeo-Farsi; our favorite meals are borrowed from the scrumptious food of Uzbekistan; we occasionally wear embroidered kaftans called jomahs at ceremonies.

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