YSU to Hold National Coming Out Day Event

By Brandon Brown

Jambar Contributor

In honor of National Coming Out Day on Oct. 11, Youngstown State University will be holding a film screening of “Dear Fredy” on Monday, Oct. 7.

The event is sponsored by the YSU Center for Judaic and Holocaust Studies and the Women’s and Gender Studies program. It is also a coproduction of the Youngstown Area Jewish Film Festival.

“Dear Fredy” follows the life of Fredy Hirsch, a German-born openly gay Jewish man. 

Fredy fled to Czechoslovakia to escape the Nazis in World War II, where he participated in Zionist circles and taught sports to Jewish youth groups.

Fredy was sent to the Terezín Ghetto, where he would lead a youth department to look after over 4,000 children.

Later sent to Auschwitz, he persuaded the Nazis to let him establish a day care, which gave 600 youths comfort in the death camp.

Fredy was able to guide the children through the daily struggle of pain, cold, hunger and fear.

His plans of revolt in the camp never came to fruition, and his death remains a mystery today, which the film aims to solve.

Jacob Labendz, assistant professor of Judaic and Holocaust Studies, said the film is presented in a hybrid documentary style, with some parts being animated.

The film is presented in this way because many images from the time were taken by the Nazis and portrayed through their viewpoint.

“Dear Fredy” wants to take back the meaning of Fredy’s story and show it from the perspective of those who suffered during the Holocaust.

“It is a way of reclaiming the visual sphere and how we believe it should be shown and discussed,” Labendz said.

The film presentation is partnered with multiple organizations on campus in hopes to increase student involvement.

Amanda Fehlbaum, a faculty adviser for YSUnity, said it is important to show support for the LGBTQ+ community.

“This is just one small event toward doing that,” she said.

“With YSUnity being gone for the time being, hopefully we can get more events like this to get people involved with the LGBT community and with the Judaic studies as well,” Fehlbaum added.

“Dear Fredy” celebrates and mourns a proudly Jewish and gay hero, opening a window into a past that should not be forgotten. 

“When I heard about this film, I knew I had to get involved with LGBT organizations on campus because the film would be such a great pairing with Coming Out Day, and the film is about being proud and true to yourself,” Labendz said.

This event is free and open to the public and will be held at 4 p.m. in Williamson Hall, room 2212.

For more information, contact Dr. Jacob Labendz at jlabendz@ysu.edu or at 330-941-1603.