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Photo: Reuters
J'lem Pride Parade
Photo: Reuters
Fighting for Jerusalem
As kids we fought with parents to visit capital; now we fight to hold gay parade there
When I was in 6th grade, our school decided to take our class on an educational tour to Jerusalem. That was during the days of the first Intifada and my parents, like many others, forbade me from joining the "dangerous" trip.

 

The morning of the trip we gathered at school exasperated and frustrated, watching the buses heading out, failing to understand why "they can go and we cannot."

 

Our parents forgot about this quickly, but we did not. Several months later, deep into the summer vacation and just before we started junior high, we got on a bus that took us to the nation's capital. We placed a note at the Western Wall, walked around the Old City, and felt as brave as it gets.

 

When we returned we told our parents where we went. They were mad, of course they were, but what could they do? After all, their kids have grown up. The kids are standing up for themselves.

 

They can try

Many years have passed since. We're no longer children and nobody can really tell us what to do, where to go, and what kind of sign to hold, but recently I discovered that there are many people who are trying to do so.

 

It was obvious to us that the 2005 World Pride Parade slated to be held in Jerusalem will be postponed. "We have the disengagement, you're part of the people, and should offer your support," voices from all directions said.

 

And us? We were always good kids, the kind that feel part of the country and shed a tear when someone is singing our national anthem on the podium, but quickly wipe it away so nobody notices. The kind of good kids that serve as instructors at youth groups and volunteer for a year of service, quietly, without anyone knowing.

 

We did hold a local parade, which one man filled with wickedness and messianic delusions attempted to kill midway. He did not succeed, but the message was as clear and sharp as the knife he was holding: You're unwanted here. Don't come to Jerusalem. Get out of here.

 

In God's image

We didn't listen to him. Nobody will tell us what to do. But we did feel well the sense of rejection and insult. That's how it is when they hate you for no reason, emotions become clearer.

 

A year has passed since. We didn't know a war would break out. But we did know there are people out there who don't want us to march through our capital, that same city we learned to love since kindergarten. "It bothers the ultra-Orthodox, the religious, traditional Jews," they told us.

 

But deep inside our heart was trembling. Some of us are ultra-Orthodox. Some of us are religious. Others are traditional Jews. Some of us are not. We all know the Torah, we know we were all created in God's image, we all know this is our city too, draped in light and emanating all colors of the spectrum.

 

Hatred without borders

As time passes, the level of hatred increases. And while we know how to handle "don't come," suddenly we found ourselves trying to explain to high school students who are members of gay youth groups that it's okay to get insulted when a notice posted by religious elements places a price tag on their lives, and such a low price at that. Indeed, how do you handle something like that?

 

And how to you explain to children born and raised in our not-so-small community, including some who have grown up and are already attending school, that the man with the long beard on television, the one we always told them dedicates his life to loving God, hates mom and mom so much?

 

When the moment of truth approached, the entire country was caught up in a whirlwind. No, this time it wasn't because of us. "Stop thinking only of yourself. Why do you need this pride? Besides, we're at war," we were told by all. At first we insisted, who knew the battles will rage for so long? At the end we postponed it again. After all, it was a war.

 

The queer is here

We postponed, but did not give up. Deep in our hearts we knew the right day will come and that we'll again be able to take the bus to Jerusalem, walk the streets, feeling the sun and surrounded by light.

 

The war ended, as wars tend to do, but our struggle saw the beginning of another battle. All those whose feelings we really did not wish to hurt turned their back when the time came to think of our feelings. And even though we waited, and postponed, and understood, and accepted, at the moment of truth the "we're one people" bubble burst in our face.

 

The ultra-Orthodox are again screaming and the police are again looking for excuses (indeed, who can digest homosexuals before the holidays of all times?)

 

But we're sticking to our guns and are not scared. After all, we fought for Jerusalem back when we were kids.

 

Perhaps the pride parade will be held as scheduled on the eve of Rosh HaShana. Perhaps it will be postponed for the third, fourth, or fifth time. But eventually, it will be held and thunder through the city: We're here.

 

Noa Raz is an editor at Ynetnews

 

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