Judy Halper
Left is not a dirty word
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Jerusalem is precisely the place for a Gay Pride parade

Proud LGBTQ+ can remind the capital's inhabitants that acceptance and compassion are not only allowed, they are necessary
Jerusalem, 2018. Credit: Nettadi, via Wikimedia Commons
Jerusalem, 2018. Credit: Nettadi, via Wikimedia Commons

Tel Aviv is the city of Pride. Its Gay Pride parade is the biggest, most colorful celebration of diversity, inclusivity and freedom, rivaling San Francisco in its own way. Jerusalem, on the other hand, is threatening to become the City of Shame. In a prelude the Jerusalem Pride Parade, frenzied death threats have been made public, and coalition members, even within the Likud, have been quoted as saying the Pride Parade is an abomination, or claiming that parents make their sons gay by giving them dolls to play with. In the meantime, far-right MK Avi Maoz will have the authority to ensure LGBTQ young people, or straight ones for that matter, never learn the facts (including the one that playing with dolls does not make one gay) about sexual and gender identity.

And, in an ironic twist, the lawyer who once defended the brother of the man who stabbed Shira Banki to death during Jerusalem’s 2015 Pride Parade is now the Minister of Internal Security, responsible for the safety of all marchers in this year’s Parade. The police are beefing up security for the Parade, but fear is in the air.

Pride Month organizers could, of course, stick to Tel Aviv, where they are welcome, and avoid the tensions and counter-protest in Jerusalem. They could leave that city to fester in its own fanatic juices.

Or, they could courageously march through the capitol, reminding us that LGBTQ identities are not limited to light-skinned, middle-upper class Ashkenazi families, nor do they belong solely to the secular, liberal side of the country’s divide.

It is precisely through Jerusalem that this parade needs to pass. Only a week ago, flag-wavers marched through the city to “show” its inhabitants who’s in control. Now the flamboyant, proud gays and their supporters will show the city’s inhabitants there is still a chance for it to be a beacon of human rights and equality, rather than a bastion of homophobia, hatred and fear.

They could remind us that many Orthodox and Haredi LGBTQs are still in the closet, struggling with their identities in the face of religious edicts against them. They could remind us of the harm caused by the use of debunked, abusive “reprogramming” methods adopted from right-wing American Christian groups. They could remind us that acceptance and compassion are not only allowed, they are necessary. The Pride Parade is not about turning your sons and daughters gay. It is about the right to live openly in the way one has been created, if you will; to love who one chooses; and to be free to live that way in our society – in Jerusalem as well as in Tel Aviv.

And if there is violence, the blame will lie squarely with this government and those who have been fanning anti-gay, homophobic sentiments. So let us all pray for a peaceful Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade. Jerusalem may never become the city of Pride, but let us hope it can at least avoid the mantle of shame.

I write this to celebrate the many LGBQTs in my life – those in my biological family and those in my chosen one. My life is far richer for them. And for the record, I gave my sons dolls when they were young, and toy trucks too. Neither affected their sexual identity.

About the Author
Judy Halper is a member of a kibbutz in the center of the country. She has worked as a dairywoman, plumber and veggie cook, and as a science writer. Today she volunteers in Na'am Arab Women in the Center and works part time for Wahat al-Salam/Neve Shalom.
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