The mother of Nir Katz, 26, a gay youth counselor murdered last August by a
masked gunman, will kick off the Tel Aviv Pride Parade on Friday by highlighting
homophobia in Israeli society and calling on parents of homosexuals, lesbians,
transgender and bisexuals to stand by their children.
“There are all
different types of people in society and only if we are willing to talk about
differences and show respect for people who are different will we find greater
understanding and acceptance,”Ayala Katz, chairwoman of Tehila, a non-profit
organization that provides support for parents of homosexual, lesbian,
transgender and bisexual children, told The Jerusalem Post
“Despite the personal pain I still feel, I am always optimistic
that the world can become a better place,” she said, adding that at the end of
the day homophobia is only hurting ourselves.
Katz, whose first husband,
Rami (Nir’s father) was killed in the 1990 Tze’elim tragedy in which five IDF
soldiers died during a training exercise, explained that until Nir’s murder she
had not been so involved in her son’s life.
“I was always supportive of
him at home and encouraged his boyfriend and friends to come over,” she said.
“But he tried to encourage me to get involved in the gay community by coming to
pride parades and other events. It was only after his murder that I realized how
important it is for parents to become involved.”
Katz added: “There is a
whole world surrounding the community and we, as parents, also need to do
something to support them.”
Not longer after Nir was murdered in the
shooting on August 1, which left 10 other people injured and another young
woman, Liz Trubeshi, dead, his mother became involved in Tehila and last
December took over as the organization’s chairwoman.
“No one decides to
become gay it is simply their reality,” said Katz. “But when people do not
accept them, either inside the family or outside, then many obstacles are
created for them.”
As well as offering support for parents of gay
children, Katz said that Tehila offers services to youngsters too scared
open about their sexual orientation.
One of the organization’s programs
involves parents of gay children reaching out to other youths in Tel
Jerusalem who have no one else to talk to and need support to confront
families, she said.
Friday’s gay pride parade in Tel Aviv is not the
first that Katz is attending since her son’s murder.
“I was recently in
Beersheva at their first pride parade,” she described. “I saw so many
people, their eyes finally shining at the prospect that they could be
their own city.”
Katz added: “I asked many people in the crowd why there
are so many bad feelings against the gay community and most of them said
stemmed from fear of the unknown. This is a subject that is not spoken
that is why people get nervous.
Only if we have dialogue will we be able
to solve this problem,” she said.
Although it has been more than 10
months since Nir Katz and Liz Trubeshi were murdered, police have yet to
any arrests in the case.