Yesterday was a special day for me and my polyamorous and pansexual family. Yesterday we marched proudly down (a small fenced off section of) the main street with rainbow flags, pink balloons and thousands of Israelis celebrating freedom and pride. To me, yesterday was historic and important for many reasons, only a handful of them personal reasons.
(photo by @mrlightning - check out his post here: https://steemit.com/lgbt/@mrlightning/kfar-saba-pride-parade)
Say what you will about Israel (and there's no shortage in flaws), it is still the only country in the Middle East to celebrate the International Pride Month and have pride parades in all major cities (Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem). This year, more cities and towns joined and had their own events and parades, including Beer Sheva in the desert and my own little town of Kfar Saba (the name of which literally translates as "grandpa's village").
(Thousands of Israeli LGBT and friends dancing to "Toy", launching the parade. Because of course they did.)
Not without challenge
According to reports, over 3,000 people of all ages and genders attended, including 3 (female) members of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament. There was a reason a parade in my little town attracted some local politicians to take selfies for their Instagram accounts (and twitter and Facebook). And it wasn't the ("Here's the heatstroke you didn't order") weather.
The police, being the police, made attempts to prevent the event from taking place. They demanded the organizers of the parade pay thousands of dollars for tall fences to surround the parade path and event area. The reason was not what you might think. It was not in fear of Palestinian terrorist attack, but rather an excuse for homophobia based on tragic events of the past. Specifically, the 2015 Jerusalem pride parade where a disturbed religious fanatic stabbed to death a 16-year-old-girl and wounded others.
The organizers, mostly gay youth organizations and human rights movements, could not afford to pay such a fee, and the police knew that. Fighting for our right to be here and queer, the organizations involved filed a case with the highest court of justice in Israel, demanding the parade take place without such extreme and unaffordable precautionary measures. The authorities did not turn a blind eye, and basically told the police to do its job in securing the event like any other. We won.
In today's political climate and growing enforcement of religion on the secular community in the county, having this parade in a suburban town like Kfar Saba means a lot. It is a small victory, but one close to my heart and home.
My personal pride
But enough about politics. My blog was never a political one. To me, this event was significant because I attended it to celebrate with pride my polyamorous lifestyle. I came to the parade with my own lioness' pride - my family: @lionne, @poet and @mrlightning (left to right in the image below).
Of course, this was a wonderful oportunity to meet friends and Internet-friends for sweaty, sunblock scented hugs. I met my highschool sweetheart and his husband, someone I befriended trolling homophobes on Facebook, and an old friend I've recently fallen out of touch with.
Love, Freedom and Cognitive Dissonance
Life in Israel requires a certain ability to repress. Yesterday we celebrated our freedom and right to love and live as we choose, while many others in the surrounding countries (and even in Palestine which is technically about 15 minutes away by car) are shunned, shamed and often killed for being gay, trans or poly. Celebrating our freedom without guilt means putting aside our desire for broader global change, while marching to raise awareness of the importance of peaceful tolerance.
Sure, you could say I live in a rainbow bubble. But just for a few days, I'd like to stay in it. We fought hard for it.
(Bubble, courtesy of @mrlightning and the organizers of the Pride Parade who know how to have fun without a budget)
All images and videos in the post are mine unless otherwise specified.