VIDEO – Drinking, raucous costumes, and wild exuberance. France’s Jewish gay community this week celebrated the festival of Purim,
which commemorates the survival of the Jewish people.
Salvation came only after Queen Esther revealed that she was Jewish, a revelation that some gay Jews liken to their own experience of coming out. Her courage helped save the Jews in ancient Persia from near extermination.
In the Purim story, the king’s advisor Haman uses the Jews’ difference as a motive for killing them. After he is snubbed by Mordechai, Esther’s uncle, he vows to massacre all Jews.
The story's tale of persecution rings a familiar bell for the Jewish gay community, also a minority group.
The day of deliverance is celebrated by wearing colorful costumes and drinking lots of wine, as a way of reversing the roles of bad and good.
If homosexuality is no longer hidden in the Jewish community, challenges still remain for France’s gay Jews.
In a context where French gays have felt a rise in homophobia, as a result of the recent gay-marriage debate, the festival of Purim seems to have come at just the right time, proving that it is okay to be different.
The story of Purim, beyond the tale of the survival of the Jewish people, is also a coming out story. Gay Jews see parallels between their own experience and the story of Esther, a Jewish woman, who wasn’t afraid to hide who she was – an important message for the LGBT community in their fight for justice.