I’m about to post something that is probably more controversial than anything I usually post (and thats saying a lot), and it may get some people to defriend me, it may get some people to think less of me… and I’ll admit, part of me was planning on just not saying anything at all.
But I feel I must. But just know that because of the controversy, I do plan on not responding to the comments section here, because I have no interest in arguing with you. I’m just sharing my thoughts.
I am going to the gay pride parade in Jerusalem in a few hours.
With my kids.
Yes. That’s right. I identify as a chareidi woman and I am still going. And I feel its important to bring my kids too.
Before you get all in shock, let me say that I used to be “one of you”. I used to be opposed to the parade. I used to say “Fine, be gay, but why do you need to be proud of it? And show off about your aveiros in the holy city of Jerusalem.”
But I’ve changed.
You want to know why I’m going?
I’m going to show that you can be religious and not be a bigot. That you can be chareidi and not be a bigot.
The thing that changed my mind, the thing that made me decide that this year is the year I’m going to go, is finding out that some of my good friends are gay. And they feel that that means that God hates them. That their life isn’t worth living. That they’re an abomination.
The reason I’m going to pride is to say I care about you. I love you. I think you’re an awesome person. And the fact that you’re gay doesn’t mean you’re any less valuable as a person, any less worthwhile as a jew, any less loved by God.
I’ve heard some people say that gay people have a choice, they choose to be gay. From my experience with my close friends who are gay, I know its the exact opposite. Because of the religious community, because of wanting to fit in and be normal, they want more than anything to not be gay. To just be able to live a traditional family life, without all this pain. People don’t choose to be gay. That is how they are. Period. Yes, for some people there’s a spectrum and they can be happy with either a man or a woman, and honestly, in that case, I do think its preferable halachically for them to have a traditional marriage. But for those who can’t or don’t want to be with someone of the opposite sex for whatever reason, I don’t judge them.
To be honest, I used to think the answer to the “gay and religious” issue was to do like Josh Weed and marry the opposite sex to your best friend… until I learned that even he was divorcing, that no matter how much he tried to make his marriage work to a woman, it wasn’t fair to either of them.
Yes, the torah says that male to male anal sex is an abomination. That is a fact. That is a sin.
But you know what it doesn’t say?
It doesn’t say that being gay is a sin. That being gay is an abomination.
I’m going to pride to stand up against so called religious people who mock, bully, bellittle, and castigate others simply for “being gay”. I heard a story of a yeshiva bochur who didn’t even really know what gay was, let alone that he was gay, until after he was already bullied for being gay in yeshiva.
I’m going to pride to say that all human beings are worthy of love and respect.
And yes, the fact that some people that are gay do acts that are assur by the torah is true. But that is something private, and that isn’t anyone’s business but theirs and god. You’re supposed to be dan people lekach zechus, judge people favorably. There’s may ways for gay couples to be intimate without breaking an issur dioraysa (a biblican law).
The fact that someone is gay doesn’t mean they are doing anything that is a sin. There is not a single sin in the world that encompasses or involved “being gay”.
I’ve heard people oppose the gay pride parade because they don’t believe its appropriate to have a parade about peoples sex life. I’m sorry, but peoples sex life is not on parade in the Jerusalem pride parade. Being gay is not about who you have sex with. You can be a celibate gay person. You can be a gay person who only has hetero sex. Being gay is about an identity that you are, not what you do. (Yes, I have heard that gay pride parades in other cities are sexually explicit, and thats why I would never go to a gay pride parade in any other city. The jerusalem one is family friendly, g rated.)
I want to add also that pride is not just about gay people. It also involves asexual and demisexual people who are shamed and told they arent normal human beings because of their lack of interest in sex. I support asexuals. That’s how god made them.
Pride is also about trans people, who I support, because I know what it’s like to be uncomfortable in your own skin, to feel like there is this existential thing wrong with you, until you figure out your identity and live as you identify inside. (For me, by the way, that happened when I attempted to live as a dati leumi person, when my inside was saying thats wrong, I identify as chareidi.)
Pride is also about intersex, and if there’s ever an argument that “this is simply how god made me” with absolutely no outside influence, this is it. God made people intersex, and they also are worthy of love and respect. (And for the record, the torah has lots of talks about intersex people, its not even remotely controversial.)
An argument I’ve heard is “fine, be LGBTQIA, if thats how you are, but why do you need to be proud of it? Why have a parade about it?” and “What about hetero pride?”
When the world at large tells you you aren’t worthwhile, when it tells you that your existence is an abomination, when people put up signs around the city calling you abnormal, being proud of yourself is an act of defiance. A healthy act of defiance. Being proud to be LGBTQIA is saying i’m a worthy human being, not in spite of the hate I get or because of the hate I get, but simply I just am. Its not saying being LGBTQIA is better than people who are cis het, it is just saying “I am a valuable individual and when you say i’m not I will proudly stand up and say I am worthy”.
And as for “Why in jerusalem, and why specifically in a way and place that is inflammatory and offensive”, I say that Jerusalem has many LGBTQIA people just like any other cities. And if there were this parade going through chareidi areas, I’d be strongly opposed. But it isnt. And if people don’t like it, they can ignore it.
If you oppose the pride parade but support the israel day parade in america, youre a hypocrite. Both are types of people that the world at large says arent worthwhile/valuable, both bring out protesters, and both are saying “I will not let the hate around me bring me down. I am proud of who I am because I am a child of God/a human being.”
Lastly, I am going to the pride parade because the main tennet of the torah is “Viahavta lireacha kamocha”, treat your neighbor like yourself, treat other people the way you want to be treated. And what better way than you march at pride with everyone else, announce myself as an ally, and say “I don’t support hate and bigotry, because that’s not what my torah says.” And that’s what I’m teaching my kids by bringing them.
Jerusalem’s Pride Divide
By Isi Leibler
The passionate controversy over the gay pride parade planned for Jerusalem earlier this month brought to a head the worst aspects of life in Israel. The storm can be viewed as a microcosm of the decadent trends that have steadily infiltrated our society, dramatically highlighting the ability of minority groups to polarize and hijack the national agenda.
The truth is that the vast majority of Jerusalemites — secular as well as religious — were opposed to holding a gay parade in their city. Had their views been taken into account, the ugly confrontation would have been stillborn.
Israel’s aggressively interventionist Supreme Court, which denies Jews the right to pray on the Temple Mount on the grounds that it infringes Muslim sensitivities, resolved that prohibiting such a parade represented a denial of freedom of expression. Despite being aware that last year three gay marchers were stabbed by hostile observers during a previous parade, the court merely added the caveat that the parade could be cancelled if it represented a threat to public order.
Not surprisingly, the police unequivocally recommended that the parade be cancelled, reaffirming that there was indeed a threat to public order and warning that virtually the entire regional police force — more than 12,000 officers — would have to be diverted to prevent violence from erupting.
Attorney General Menachem Mazuz, who has come under considerable criticism for his alleged predilection of enabling political considerations to influence his decisions, rejected the police recommendation. Contrary to media expectations and even surprising the parade organizers, Mazuz insisted that freedom of expression was at stake and that the march would proceed, albeit with some adjustment in routing.
Only at the last minute, however, was the parade radically confined because of a security threat that arose in response to the killing of the civilians in Gaza. Even so, more than 3,000 policemen were required to protect 3,000 gays and lesbians and their supporters who rallied at Hebrew University’s stadium in Givat Ram. The underlying tragedy is that all this took place during a period of grave concern over the very future of the nation, when all responsible parties should have been setting aside their prejudices and concentrating on the promotion of national unity.
Jerusalem is a unique city, and the vast majority of the dominant Jewish and Muslim inhabitants, as well as Christians, do not accept homosexuality and lesbianism as equally legitimate alternative lifestyles. Their feelings are based on religious grounds, and cannot simply be dismissed.
Gay parades are regular events in some cities. But it was inevitable that emotions would become inflamed when gays targeted Jerusalem as an arena to publicly promote their agenda. Jerusalem is not San Francisco, and just as it would be inconceivable for gay activists to parade at the Vatican, such a march in Jerusalem should also have been regarded as provocative.
Nobody who believes in democracy can dispute the right of gays to promote their civil rights. Indeed, bearing in mind that it was only in the late 1980s that the Knesset formally repealed the laws designating homosexuality as a criminal offense, the fact that the law now bans discrimination against same sex couples demonstrates the extent of the gay movement’s political achievement.
But there are limits to what the general community should be expected to accept. Holding a triumphant gay parade in Jerusalem was deliberately confrontationist. The organizers knew it, but believed that such a parade, accompanied by militant opposition from Haredim, would provide them with the publicity they craved. In reality, they also lost out because by and large, most Israelis were disgusted by the whole affair.
The matter also widened beyond a controversy over a gay parade. It was hijacked by a small circle of secular activists as a vehicle to humiliate and discredit the religious. The vast majority of Orthodox opponents to the parade protested within the framework of the law.
Only a small minority of Haredim from the extremist Eda Haredit sect engaged in the violence, but they succeeded in creating the impression that virtually all of Jerusalem’s Orthodox community was party to the hooliganism and provided the Israeli public with yet another revolting anti-Orthodox hate fest. The outrageous behavior by the tire-burning Haredi zealots succeeded in making secular anti-Orthodox agitators the sole beneficiaries from the civil disorder by discrediting all Orthodox Jerusalemites as lawbreakers and thugs.
It was yet another example of the failure of Israeli leaders to prevent a needless schism. It was also due to the connivance and collaboration of the Supreme Court and attorney general who, instead of avoiding yet another painful and damaging confrontation, positively encouraged through their decisions the parade to proceed. The principal losers in this furor were the people of Israel. The ideals — of tolerance, of dialogue, of the efforts to restore harmony in a nation shattered by political corruption, a failed war and a lack of confidence in its elected leaders — simply slid one further step backwards.
Isi Leibler is chairman of the Diaspora-Israel Relations Committee at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
There are 10 days left until Jerusalem Pride. Please consider donating 10 times chai today by clicking HERE.
For more information about 2012 Jerusalem Pride, please visit our website.
Thank you for your continual support,
-The Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance
Need your fix of the JOH? Check out this video:
The Jerusalem March for Pride and Tolerance is fast approaching, keeping the staff at Jerusalem Open House quite busy. In light of this exciting time, we wanted to reach out to you and let you know about what makes this year’s Pride special. We are celebrating our initiatives on the local, the national and the global sphere.
For the Jerusalem Open House, exposure around Pride helps to more effectively reach out to those struggling with their gender identity and sexual orientation. Many are inspired to leave their oppressive homes, search for accepting communities similar to the one provided by JOH. To learn more about the hustle and bustle surrounding Jerusalem Pride and to support our activities, please click HERE.
The Jerusalem Open House’s hard work to serve the needs of this community, despite extreme religious backlash, pays off in creating a safe community that serves as a strong example for the rest of the nation. To learn more about JOH initiatives on a national scale and to support our work, please click HERE.
Despite our location within the periphery of Israel, Jerusalem can and should continue it leading role within the international movement for gay liberation. To learn more about JOH’s engagement with the global sphere and to help us make a global impact, please click HERE.
Don’t forget, the Jerusalem March for Pride and Tolerance will be August 2nd. If you are in Israel we would love for you to join us!
Thank you for your continued support; we could not do this without your help.
-Elinor Sidi, Executive Director
Please donate generously HERE.