Why We Need Pride In Jerusalem

Too many people have asked me that question, so here’s your answer.

I am so incredibly proud to be a resident of Jerusalem right now. For one shining moment, no matter who you are – gay, lesbian, bi, trans, queer, pan, in, out, religious, secular, in between…for one moment you can just live in a bubble of freedom and acceptance. If you are at the parade you are cool by definition. For one blissful afternoon you can live your life without fear of judgment, discrimination, and violence. You can walk through the streets of this holy city and be totally free.

But here’s the catch: One afternoon every year or two is not enough. We march because we have the guts to expect more than that.

Before I go on about how much fun the parade was, I’d like to clear up a few misconceptions about the event itself. Some people feel that the Pride Parade is not appropriate in Jerusalem, the holy city. I’d like to clarify why I believe that there is no place more appropriate than Jerusalem, the capital of Israel.

  1. A religious man marches wearing a Gay Pride flag with Star of David, a mix of Pride and the Israeli flag.

     Inappropriate dress. This is not true for the Jerusalem Pride Parade. Out of 3,000 people, there were only two men who were not wearing shirts. And a male to female transgender in a dress does not count as cross dressing.

  2. Public Display of Affection. Again, out of 3,000 people I saw one couple kissing and a few couples holding hands. Yeah, PDA is gross! But straight PDA is not any less gross than gay PDA.

  3. It’s a secular event. In case you aren’t familiar with the demographics of Jerusalem, a large percentage of the population here are religious Jews / Christians / Muslims / Other. The Pride Parade was packed with kippas and tzitzit, skirts and hair coverings – our symbols of a religious lifestyle. Some of them are out of the closet religious people, some are straight supporters. There were far too many religious people at the parade to say that it is not relevant in a largely religious city.

  4. It’s a sex parade. It’s not. In Jerusalem, it’s a protest. We march for social change. We march because we deserve to live a life without violence, discrimination at work or anywhere else. We deserve health and marriage equality. And we’re not going to get those things by sitting down and being quiet.

In case you still aren’t convinced, let me address a specific moment of the parade. As we marched down Ramban street – which borders on a mainly religious neighborhood but does not go through it – somebody threw a stink bomb. I have to admit I was impressed. It seems like it would take quite a lot of premeditation and preparation to do such a thing. It seems like an enormous amount of energy to waste on hating someone. I’m glad to report that the person who did it was arrested while the parade was still going on, and what a shame, in the end he just stank up his own street.

Seriously, though. It wasn’t as if we didn’t know that was coming. It’s not the first time that has happened. Don’t you think it takes a good deal of courage and purpose to walk down the roads when you know you could be hit by a bag of someone else’s crap? So it smelled a little bad. It stopped no one. The parade marched on. Honestly, what’s a little stink bomb to the LGBT community, who endures far worse on a daily basis?

With that in mind, let’s not forget that a lot of people who march in the parade are not L, G, B, T or Q, but they recognize that this is a protest for human rights. The needs of the LGBT community are relevant to straight people as well. Because bullying and violence, discrimination based on race or gender, hate crimes, equality in health care and marriage are issues that hit every one of us close to home, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation.

So next year, pick a basic human right you feel you need, make a rainbow colored sign and come march with us. And if you feel you enjoy complete freedom and full human rights, come get your face painted and stand up for someone who doesn’t.


Time Travel in Everyday Life

What would you do if you had a time machine? Comedian Louis CK says, “Go back in time and make you not ask me that question.”

I like to believe that actions make a difference. Sometimes it gets a little hard to keep believing that, especially when proof to the contrary springs up right before my eyes. Last year there was a tent city protest in Jerusalem, and yet housing is still as expensive as Paris. I’d like to believe that writing letters to politicians makes them change their mind about something. I’d like to believe that the “Slut Walks” make people change the way they think about rape.

Still, in the year 2012, where women drive and work and vote, and blacks and whites marry each other, self-respecting people can be found blaming the victims of sexual assault. This Judge overrode the Jury’s punishment decision and told the victim publicly that “If you wouldn’t have been there that night, none of this would have happened to you.” What is the judge saying? She’s saying women, don’t go out to bars. Women, don’t walk around alone. Are we not one step away from “Women, get back in the kitchen and stay home and take care of your babies?” Why are we moving backwards? Oh – yes! I’ve always wanted proof that time travel is possible!

It’s possible to go back even further than Toronto in 2011. Some people attempt to travel all the way back to the writing of the American constitution. This is what Chris Kluwe said in his letter to Maryland state delegate Emmett C. Burns Jr. when the latter tried to silence the voice of a football player who supports gay marriage. After you read the letter, read the comments. While the words of the state delegate are ridiculous, this letter is problematic as well. Even if you support gay marriage, doesn’t this letter make you want to apologize to Burns? From the first line of the letter, I thought to myself, if this was addressed to me I would stop reading right here. From my experience, if you want someone to read your letter, you shouldn’t open it with a string of vulgar insults. This sort of approach brings us back in time just as much as opposing gay rights.

I’ll ask you again; if you had a time machine, what would you do with it?