What do they have to be proud of anyway?
Ok, we get it. You sleep with men, why do you need a parade?
There isn’t a straight parade pride so why is there one for gays?
When you ask questions in an unpleasant tone, or rhetorical questions like some of those above, you make it very clear what your agenda is – in this case, homophobia. However, you can only learn if someone helps you along the way, so here we go.
LGBT+ people (again, I speak only for myself and do not claim to represent anyone else) need pride celebrations, and I will tell you why.
I need LGBT+ Pride Parades. I need them in Tel Aviv, in Haifa, in Jerusalem, and wherever else groups of activists get together and arrange a pride event. Because, quite simply, I am unequal in the eyes of the law.
I march because I need you to see me and I need you to hear me, I need you to remember that I exist outside of the stereotypes and the box that you have put me in. I march so that you can know me and my struggle.
If I want to marry the man I love, I have to do so abroad.
If I want to raise a family of my own, I must make it happen by an adoption or surrogacy process abroad.
This is state-legislated homophobia, voted into place by the politicians that the Israeli public elected and then formed a government. I pay my taxes. I served in the IDF. There is no good reason that I should have to pay money (that other couples do not have to pay) to leave my homeland (that other couples do not have to do) in order to make our relationship official in the company of family and friends. This is total inequality; whereby, on one side, opposite-sex couples can get married in their homeland and same-sex couples cannot. I march for my rights.
Yoel Yeshurun, Deputy Mayor of Holon and Dean of Students at Ashkelon Academic College referred to the Tel Aviv LGBT+ Pride March as a “nauseating and disgusting parade of two-legged beasts” – that’s my translation of the Hebrew, although I am open to my translation being corrected. He made that comment as a part of a long rant on Facebook, from his official account as Deputy Mayor. He is still in that role and is also still in his role as an educator of young people. You can read more (Hebrew link) about what Mr. Yeshurun said here.
I need pride because the Holon City Council and Ashkelon Academic College have kept this man in his positions, and there is no place in city management, nor education for this kind of comment. An apology was made, but it’s not enough. Our government, local city councils and educational institutions need to make a clear statement that LGBT+ phobia is unacceptable in those places. Because of the fact that at the moment the statement is the opposite, these views will be accepted, and in the end you can get away with just saying “sorry.” This is people’s lives, their mental and physical health, this is their education, their home life – you don’t get an apology today and make it all ok! Action needs to be taken. At the moment, none of us see much of an option other than to march. And maybe also blog…
Bezalel Smutritch, an MK from The Jewish Home Party, is trying to pass an amendment to the law appertaining to the provision of goods, services in public places and entertainment centers to allow these centers/service providers to discriminate against LGBT+ people on the grounds of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This is currently illegal, but an elected official from within the government coalition is trying to pass discrimination BACK INTO THE LAW.
This means that it will be legitimate, legally, to refuse an LGBT+ person a meal in a restaurant, a cinema ticket or anything else that the law defines as “goods and services in public places or public entertainment.” You can read about MK Smutrich’s proposed amendment here (Hebrew link). Let me be extremely clear, such an amendment proposed by the Jewish Home (8 mandates) would receive a unanimous vote from Shas (7 mandates) and from United Torah Judaism (6 mandates). While 21 mandates does not guarantee the success of this proposed legislation, if only half of the Likud (30 mandates) were to also vote for this law, it will easily pass. For this reason that I need LGBT+ Pride.
This is why you need LGBT+ Pride too: because history has shown us again and again that when one minority group faces legal, state-sanctioned discrimination, others will too.
You need LGBT+ Pride because we are your friends, your family and your loved ones, and we care about you in the same way that you care about us.
You need LGBT+ Pride because you deserve equality, fairness and a more just society, and I do too.
And before I forget, there are those nasty comments that appear on blogs when queer people dare to demand their rights.
I am proud that even though we face daily challenges as LGBT+ people we are still able to succeed in every area of life, both professional and personal.
Every day is Straight Pride when you flaunt your legal marriages in our faces, your uncensored behavior, your thoughtless hand-holding. I only have those luxuries on Pride Days, on a few streets, of a few cities, for a few hours.
And lastly, I will not be reduced to a single, specific sexual act. I am a human being, a lifetime of experiences, a tour guide (when I pass those exams!), an informal educator. I am a friend, a son, a cousin, a life partner. I love and I laugh.
What you imagine that I do in my private intimate life does not mean that I do not deserve equality. Unless, of course, you would entitle me to a serious discount on my taxes and the time I spent in the army back.
Enormous thanks to those who helped me proof-read and edit this piece!