As most of you know I have serious reservation about the state of Israel, its despicable treatment of Palestinians, and its incredible relationship with the US Government. All of that being said, I have watched Israel be the one of the few places in the Middle East that has an active an apparent gay community.
This of course does not say other countries do not, have it, and I am sure there are underground gay communities present. Also, with the presence of fundamentalist Islam it is near impossible to be out and proud in the Middle East. People (mostly men) are tortured and executed for being gay in some of these countries. Though I do not believe Western media would be quick to show much movement toward queer acceptance in the Middle East even if it did happen. That would make the Islamic countries in the Middle East look like they were in progress, and the west has no interest in that.
Back to Israel, it has been announced that the now haredi mayor of Jerusalem wants to end an international gay pride event. First off, you should know, that I really enjoy gay pride. I like seeing everyone out in the daylight, I like all the campiness, and I love seeing my community assembled. I believe queer people have fought and sacrificed a lot, and we deserve a moment just celebrate. Pride is a big fun party marching through the streets. However I do not like the turn toward huge corporate sponsorships and the other things taking away from the fabulousness from the event. I do not know much about this pride event, but I see no Coors advertisements on their site and as a whole, the organizers seem down to earth (a little assimilationist for my taste, but oh well).
On their website it states:
Jerusalem WorldPride 2005 will gather people from all over the world to bring a message that is needed throughout the Middle East and beyond: that human rights transcend cultural and ethnic boundaries, that our differences can be respected peacefully, and that love knows no borders. There is no better place in the world than Jerusalem to make that statement, and perhaps no city that needs to hear it more.
So the mayor of Jerusalem, a man as far right as those Muslim leaders the west condemns, is getting sympathetic press for his ‘concerns.’ I do hope that this march is concerned with solidarity for the Palestinians that the host country is abusing. If these organizers hold true to their statement, than they must continue their fight to organize in the streets of Jerusalem and while there, they must be heard in one voice, that all people are equal: gay, straight, Palestinian, or Israeli.