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Photo: Eitan Lahav
Or Shai
Photo: Eitan Lahav
Let gays march
Pride parades are gay community’s way to struggle against homophobia
In order to explain why the proposal to ban the gay pride parade in Jerusalem is so damaging, we can write about values, freedom of expression, human rights, and the future of democracy. But in order to fully illustrate it, it would be better to go back to our good old high school days.

 

In every high school that respects itself, there are people who have become institutions. Some of them are officials recognized and monitored by the Education Ministry, such as the “school counselor,” the “administrative manager,” and the “caretaker.” Others are unofficial popular institutions that have emerged over the years: The “bad boy,” the “hottest girl,” and the “class geek.”

 

Yet out of all of them, there is special significant to one person in particular: The “gay guy.” There are obviously other students with homosexual tendencies aside from him, but he is THE gay guy. At times he displays feminine behavior, other times he doesn’t shy away from talking to the girls about “hunks,” but in any case his sexual orientation will always put his environment to the test.

 

First of all, the school itself is tested. Will the staff display a tolerant approach, or will the student be called to the principal’s office and be expelled from school (as indeed happened in the United States)? Will a teacher who encounters such student display openness, or will she yell at him not to behave “like a transvestite” (as already happened in our small country)?

 

Secondly, this is a test for society. Will the “gay guy” suffer daily physical or verbal violence, or will there be students, usually female students, who will stand up for him, treat him as an equal, and protect him?

 

More than anyone else, homosexual students who have not yet come out of the closet closely watch the “gay guy.” Through him, they examine the school’s and society’s attitude, and through that they decide whether to come out of the closet or continue living a life filled with secrets and lies.

 

In adult life, gay pride parades are the “gay guy.” When thousands march and openly declare what society teaches us to hide, they convey a clear message to every lesbian girl still in the closet and to every homosexual forced to marry a woman: You are not alone; you are part of a community that would support you and safeguard your rights.

 

Who will be banned next?

Gay pride parades are the gay community’s way to struggle against institutional and social homophobia. It is a rally in favor of our right to wed, adopt children, donate blood, and be entitled to welfare, education, and health services just like any other citizen. A street that hosted a gay pride parade is a street where same-sex couples could hold hands with no fear.

 

The demand to prevent the gay pride parade from taking place in Jerusalem for “religious reasons” is cynical and hypocritical. Who’s next? Will the Ethiopian community be banned from protesting in Jerusalem because the Chief Rabbinate does not recognize them as kosher Jews? Will intermarried couples be banned from protesting in the capital because intermarriage contradicts Jewish law? Will Arab Israelis be banned from marching in Jerusalem to spare the feelings of racists?

 

The gay pride parade is our way to declare our right to exist and protest in favor of equal rights. Therefore, this year we will hold a gay pride parade in Haifa as well. This is why the bill to ban the gay pride parade must be resisted. This is why straight men and women should also arrive at the parades: For the sake of equal rights, freedom of expression, and common sense.

 

Or Shai is the action coordinator and member of the management committee of the Haifa forum for lesbians, homosexuals, transgendered, and bisexuals

 

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