A series of meetings are taking place with national leaders, diplomats and myself, but there is nothing that can be publicly shared about them.
At the end of a recent meeting, I laughed and said, “I guess we are not taking a selfie together.”
This unofficial diplomacy, where we discuss matters privately that can have significant affects publicly, is vastly important. And there must be discretion and understanding in the meetings, especially with people who I know can suffer from severe consequences for meeting with me.
Oftentimes, when I meet with political leaders of democratic countries, we do so with the freedoms afforded to us as citizens. And when I meet with the political leaders from dozens of – let’s call them “not-so-democratic” countries – we do not share much publicly that I met with them. When these fascinating individuals, each of whom are dedicated to promoting peace and finding ways to liberate their own nations, and some only trying to do so for economic gains, I reach a point to where I realize unofficial diplomacy goes a long way.
My unofficial diplomacy receives the consent American and Israeli governmental members. There are things I can do and say that they cannot.
What are we talking about and who am I meeting?
Recently, I met with senior representatives of a Middle Eastern nation where it is illegal to be homosexual and being LGBTQ is faced with punishments of imprisonment and death. If leadership in these representatives’ homeland knew they met with me – a Jewish, Israeli and American, LGBTQ activist – they could face harsh punishments, the least of which would be the removal from office and their positions.
We spoke about their desires to boost their nation’s economy, and how they can deal with business relations with Jewish, Israeli, American minorities, and LGBTQ people, including the rights of LGBTQ people within their nation. Discussing these important matters, such as how and why things should change within their country, became a friendly conversation, mixed with banter over drinks and food.
In the fight for the rights and protections of marginalized people worldwide, we have to meet face-to-face with those enabling and even promoting marginalization and victimization.
I call it unofficial diplomacy, meeting with world leaders on behalf of both the LGBTQ and Jewish communities to discuss growth, ways to work together, ending hatred, persecution and violence.
In many nations, being part of the LGBTQ community is illegal and one can literally be put to death. At times, I find myself sitting at a table where I can make a difference. I can provide a unique perspective to someone who may not have necessarily heard a different take on life.
Hopefully, one day, I will not have to hide these meetings from public forums, such as social media. It is extremely important to show peace efforts taking place – no matter what they are for – whether it be to promote relations with America, Israel, the Jewish people, the LGBTQ community or anything else.
My optimistic outlook sees these meetings as a step in the right direction.