Jennifer Isackov

Beer Sheva Pride

An elderly man walked, with obvious difficulty, out of his house and now stood a couple meters from the road. With his walker in front of him, and back slightly hunched over, he slowly brought his hands together and clapped. It was an unhurried, intentional clap. And it kept going.

As the parade pushed me forward, I debated whether to take a picture of this man and all he represented. But then someone else from the crowd walked over to him, gave him a hug and a flag, and took a selfie.

Next to the old man stood two women and their young children. They stood between the rundown flats and the road with the parade, watching colorful flags and people walk by their homes. Someone offered a child a small pride flag, and the mothers asked for several more, one for each child. I smiled.

This was the Beer Sheva that I have known for 17 years. A city that is mainly traditional and conservative but also generally tolerant and at peace with those who are different. The annual gay pride parade may only have a few thousand participants, but as students and families walked quietly down Bialik Street, every window seemed to have at least one set of eyes peering out.

Although there was a large police presence, there was no counter protest, yelling, or heckling. No one threw eggs. No one yelled obscenities. The parade was endearingly quiet as were the spectators. Considering the backdrop to this year’s parade, amity was a welcome relief.

Only days before, a member of Knesset and coalition member, Yitzhak Pindrus from United Torah, stated that the most dangerous threat to Israel, more than the ISIS, Hamas or Hezbollah is the LGTBQ community. Not long before, Sarit Ahmed, an 18 year old Druze woman, was murdered by her brother because of her sexual orientation. She had recently left a woman’s shelter and the police failed to protect her.

Add to the mix a proud homophobic member of Knesset, Avi Maoz, who has been promised control of the education department that oversees external programming. Top it off with a professional development day in Jerusalem that refers to LGTBQ people in the same language as people dealing with mental illness and includes a lecture on the dangers of trans ideology. The lecturers include psychologists and social workers, all of whom should probably have their licenses pulled for encouraging conversion therapy (which is illegal in Israel).

With all these events in the background, it is no surprise that the number of assaults against LGTBQ members has shot up, pride flags have been torn down and even burned, and tensions around Pride month have escalated.

However, when I witnessed the elderly man’s effort to openly welcome the parade into his neighborhood, my heart rejoiced and my legs danced. And I felt very much at home.

About the Author
Moved from Canada to Beer Sheva in 2006 to study my MSW at Ben Gurion and have been living in Beer Sheva ever since- now with my husband and three children. I work as a social worker at Women's Spirit.
Related Topics
Related Posts