Homophobia, Jews and Facebook: A Lament

In the wake of the celebratory Pride Week here in New York City, I have to ask a pressing question that should’ve been posed long ago:

Why the hell is there so much noxious homophobia on the Times of Israel’s Facebook page?

It’s not even the “casual” kind of idiotic bigotry — the type where someone opines: “I’m not against gay people; I just hate when they rub their sexuality in my face.” That’s bad enough. No, this is the variety that calls LGBT lifestyles “abominations” and supports the deranged, hateful killer Yishai Schlissel, who murdered a teenage girl at last year’s Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade.

Who in their right mind would support such violence? What kind of villain would hold to such a credo?

Jews and LGBT individuals have a lot in common. We’ve both been persecuted throughout the eons … and we still encounter terrible prejudice. We’ve been attacked because of our beliefs, our sensibilities, our loves, our desires. We’ve been pounded down and pushed to the side. We’ve been excluded — even from our own families. And we’ve been lost, in more ways than one.

There’s no reason for that sort of nonsense to continue.

The problem is, I see comments on the TOI’s Facebook page from people adhering to my own religion that express such hatred. They disgust me. We’re better than that.

Aren’t we?

One thing’s for certain: You’re likely a raving maniac if you advocate the killing of LGBT people. And if you’re Jewish and support such an idea, you ought to be ashamed of yourself. We’re in the same boat, folks. We’ve got to head toward the same goal.

I love the fact that Israel, for the most part, remains a place where LGBT individuals can feel safe. I love the fact that Tel Aviv is proud of its Pride. I love the fact that folks of the same sex can walk hand-in-hand down the street and not have to worry about being assaulted. I love the fact that the gay community can organize big parades and celebrate what they should be celebrating: their lives.

I don’t love the fact that homophobic hate speech runs rampant on the TOI’s Facebook page … even though the publication’s country of origin is the most enlightened, tolerant nation in the Middle East when it comes to LGBT rights (and I say this while remaining cognizant of the reality that more still needs to be done along these lines).

True, bigoted comments are everywhere, unfortunately. They’re not just relegated to the TOI’s Facebook page; other publications are saddled with them, too. And happily, most of these posts are deleted soon after they’re brought to light. But I’m saddened by the large number of these remarks, and I just wish those who disseminate them would understand just how harmful they are. That they’re so prevalent on the page of an online newspaper that I respect greatly for the quality of its journalism and editorial makes the situation even more distressing. I think the Times of Israel is the bee’s knees. Homophobia, on the other hand, is like a poisonous stinger.

I’d like to ask people who read the TOI to speak up more often against the anti-LGBT prejudice that frequently punctuates the commentary on the publication’s Facebook page. If more folks do it, maybe the bigots will see they’re outnumbered and won’t post their hate speech as much. Perhaps that’s a naive hope, yet it could conceivably be realized in only a short time … as long as readers do what’s right.

So can they? I want to think they can. Starting ASAP would set them on the right path — the path that all good people should rightly walk.

For when done, the stingers of homophobia ultimately will be dulled, once and for all. And that’s something to take pride in, without exception.

Of that I’m sure.

About the Author
Simon Hardy Butler is a writer and editor living in New York City. He has written for publications ranging from Zagat to Adweek and has interviewed innumerable people—including two Auschwitz survivors whose story may be heard at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s website. His views and opinions are his own.
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