‘El Torero de la Torah’, the 1920s gay, Jewish American bullfighter

Sidney Franklin, the first American to reach the status of a matador in Spain, was defined not only by his elegance or tough-guy personality but also by his Jewishness

SIDNEY FRANKLIN HAD a complicated relationship with his Jewish identity. Born Sidney Frumkin in an Orthodox Jewish family in Brooklyn’s Park Slope neighbourhood, the matador-to-be often clashed with his traditional father. The fact that he was gay (although not openly so) made him feel even more alienated from his religion.

On Monday, the Centre for Jewish History in New York is hosting a lecture about Franklin. Set during June, which is Pride month, the talk will explore both his Jewish and gay identities.

“He was filled with contradictions,” said Rachel Miller, director of archive and library services at the Manhattan-based centre. “It’s fun to look at him today when we have a very different perspective now than we did 100 years ago on gender and queer identity, Jewish identity also, and the effects of trauma.”

Miller has been researching Franklin’s life since 2010. She stumbled upon his story while sorting through materials about him held by the centre and was intrigued upon learning about his family background. His parents fled anti-Semitism in Russia to settle in New York, where his siblings remained.

“Then what’s with this one who goes off to Mexico City and Spain and everywhere else as a bullfighter?” Miller wondered.

FULL STORY The life of gay, Jewish bullfighter Sidney Franklin (JTA)

Photo: Franklin (Wikipedia Commons)