If you’ve heard of Gila Münster, who bills herself as “Toronto’s cross stitching, cross-dressing Jewish American Princess,” it’s probably because of her drag queen storytelling events. After the height of the pandemic, she began partnering with public libraries across Southern Ontario, hosting story hours for children to supplement nighttime performances.
Then came the protests.
In the summer of 2023, for the first time in her life, protesters began showing up outside libraries where she was scheduled to perform. Around the same time, Münster found herself at the centre of a city-wide debate, as she became the only drag storyteller approved to come into Toronto District School Boards classrooms for drag storytime—and the school board refused to give parents the option to opt their children out.
And then, after facing months of right-wing backlash in-person and online, Oct. 7 happened. Suddenly, Münster—who is Israeli, and has worked for the UJA Federation and Hillel in Toronto—found herself being verbally attacked by her queer friends on the left, too, who strongly support the Palestinian cause and skew anti-Zionist.
All this has forced Münster into a unique space, navigating a thin line between two increasingly unfriendly political sides. She joins The CJN’s arts podcasters on Culturally Jewish to describe her controversial year, explain the Jewish history of drag and discuss her upcoming annual variety show, 8 Gays of Hanukkah, happening Dec. 17 in Toronto.
Culturally Jewish is hosted by Ilana Zackon and David Sklar. Our producer is Michael Fraiman, and our theme music is by Sarah Segal-Lazar. We’re a member of The CJN Podcast Network. To support The CJN and receive a charitable tax receipt, please consider a monthly donation by clicking here.