Tuesday, June 12, 2012

"Let's Celebrate Our Freedom" - Post Parade Report

What a wonderful Pride Day (it was Friday the 8th of the month, but I am only finding time to write about it now). I arrived at the starting grounds at Gan Meir in Tel Aviv with my friend Jessica at about 1230pm. The place was packed and full of wonderful energy. The first thing I did was buy a Rainbow flag and than we met up with some other friends and a group people that were interviewing me and filming me for a school project. One of the real treats of the day was that my great friend Long, whom I have written about about in previous posts (and who is straight) was in Israel and came along to show his support. At about 1pm we started to march.
Me and my flag at Gan Meir
Starting to March










The parade was an amazing experience. Around 100,000 people marching, smiling and having fun. There was no hate and no counter protests. Just tens of thousands of people celebrating their pride, joined by their friends, families and supporters. Watching all the smiling faces, the drag queens, the happy couples, the eccentrically dressed people, one could not help but feel celebration and joy in the air.

Tziona Patriot and Talula Bonet

Marchers on stilts

Supportive onlookers 

The view of the parade from above

The parade ended at the beach, where there was a massive party and concert. Everywhere you looked there were people (and many of them gorgeous ;)) dancing and having a good time. On stage, DJs, dancers and drag queens took turns entertaining and energizing the crowd. One of the highlights of the day came during the concert. The wonderful drag queen Talula Bonet was on stage, dancing to the music. She called out a few times, "Everyone raise your hands. Everyone raise your hands." Than she said "Let's celebrate our freedom". With those words, an energy went through the crowd. Everywhere you looked people were dancing, cheering and waving rainbow flags in the air. My friend Long looked at me with an expression of awe on his face and said, "that was really cool". And that is why we were all there. The Middle East is a war torn area of the world and a haven for hate, radicals and fundamentalists. But not Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv is the one major city in the entire region where a parade like this could have taken place. It is the one city where LGBTQ people could come together and celebrate their freedom, and not have to demand it.
Talula and some back up dancers on stage at the beach

What made the day even more special for me was that I got to share it with friends that I love. This was my first pride parade and it really meant a lot to me. Most of my friends that were there with me are straight, but they came out to show their support. Even the friends that got lost in the huge crowd and that I did not get to spend much time with, seeing them for just a little bit meant a lot. So to my dear friends, I just want to say thank you. It was a day I will never forget :)
Me and my friends Nadav, Gavy, Jessica and Long
at the beach party

16 comments:

  1. Love all the colours, and fun and joy!!! So . . are you a little less haunted by Israel?

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    1. I love Tel Aviv. It is a wonderful city. I say often that as much as I do not want to live here anymore, I do live this city. By Tel Aviv is just an Island surrounded by a backwards society that seems intent on going backwards.
      And, just for the record, it is Judaism that haunts me, not Israel. I have yet to (and not sure I will) write much about my issues with Israel.

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    3. >it is Judaism that haunts me, not Israel.
      Ahh, gotcha. The title: "How Judaism Haunts Me and Why I Must Leave Israel" threw me off.

      "Tel Aviv is just an Island surrounded by a backwards society that seems intent on going backwards."

      It's interesting that when Tel Aviv is called "the Bubble" - at least how I understood it - it's a bit of a put down - implying that Tel Avivians are oblivious as to what's happening around them. What you're saying, also casts Tel Aviv as a bubble, but in a completely different (and positive) light - as a progressive haven. Maybe a different kind of light unto the nations? :).

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    4. Tel Avivians always took the bubble comment as a positive thing even though outsiders who say it mean it negatively. Tel Aviv is by no means perfect and today with the illegal immigrants all of the cities problems are being magnified. But specifically when it comes to secular rights, individual freedom for citizens and tolerance to the very large LGBTQ population, Tel Aviv is an oasis in a desert of orthodox religious intolerance.
      As far as the light on to the nation idea, I think many communities have what they can learn and share with other communities. Tel Aviv is very special in this region. But on the global scale, I don't think it is any different than most other modern secular western cities.

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    5. Interesting - I didn't know how the bubble was perceived from within. Have only been there briefly, but I also love the city . . .

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  2. "..she said "Let's celebrate our freedom". With those words, an energy went through the crowd. Everywhere you looked people were dancing, cheering and waving rainbow flags in the air. My friend Long looked at me with an expression of awe on his face and said, "that was really cool". And that is why we were all there. The Middle East is a war torn area of the world and a haven for hate, radicals and fundamentalists. But not Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv is the one major city in the entire region where a parade like this could have taken place. It is the one city where LGBTQ people could come together and celebrate their freedom, and not have to demand it."

    Cool quote!

    Meanwhile, in Toronto we got to deal with this:

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/toronto/toronto-council-funds-pride-week-despite-participation-of-controversial-group/article4241126/?cmpid=rss1

    What are your thoughts on anti-Israel queer groups and their participation in Pride parades?

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    1. JRK- Also can't help but be thinking about this! Jonathan Kay wrote a great article in the Post today, which I will link on my blog . . . and Ami - I take it you won't mind if I quote you as well :). It really is such a pertinent quote in light of how QuAIA is attempting to hijack the parade.

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    2. I'm glad you like my quote JRK and CL (and of course, feel free to quote me).
      In regards to the anti-Israel LGBTQ movements. In much of the world, for various reasons, LGBTQ people are part of the far left political community. As part of the far left community, they are exposed to their normal "apartheid and Israel rant". But they also know that in the LGBTQ world, Israel is considered one of the better countries. So they are just running a propaganda campaign to get the more main stream LGBTQ people to join their far left wing view. I do not believe any informed person would take this seriously. In fact some of the worlds biggest LGBTQ publications have ran a series of Israel friendly articles this week.
      The Advocate
      http://www.advocate.com/politics/military/2012/06/12/israels-military-proudly-posts-photo-two-soldiers-holding-hands

      http://www.advocate.com/arts-entertainment/pride/2012/06/10/gayest-city-globe#slide-1

      Out Magazine
      http://www.out.com/entertainment/popnography/2012/06/12/israeli-army-celebrates-gay-pride-month

      I believe there were more, but I cannot find them right now. Anyways, in Canada the far left is very vocal from what I can understand. But just a few months ago Tel Aviv was declared by popular vote from LGBTQ travelers as the number one travel destination for LGBTQ people in the world. That is the main stream.

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    3. Well said, and well documented, Ami!!

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  3. The fact that israel is good for gays has nothing to do with their protests of apartheid against the arabs.

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    1. But their claim of "pink washing" does.

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  4. Good to hear!

    Ironically, some of the best comments that I've heard on Israel come from a Muslim lesbian from Toronto - Irshad Manji.

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    1. Interesting. I'll have to take a look.
      Thanks!

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    2. Here's a sample of an interview with her:

      https://www.irshadmanji.com/sites/default/files/news/IM_AL-ARABIYAinterview_070911.html

      Her website: https://www.irshadmanji.com/About-Irshad

      Ironically, I've seen a pattern where Muslims - inspired by liberals in the West - who dare to criticize anything about current Muslim regimes or growing extremism find themselves attacked by those same liberals. Sometimes, it's as if only Western Christians and Jews are seen as being entitled to criticize their religion and culture and government. This happened with Irshad, and it has also happened with moderate Muslim activist Tarek Fatah and former Muslim Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

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