Participant with Jewish Pride flag walking in the 2017 Tel Aviv Pride Parade.
(photo credit: BECKY BROTHMAN)
Gay pride parades celebrate how far we have come.
They are public expressions of the belief that people should not be ashamed of what they feel and who they are. These parades are testaments to arrival. We live in an age in which no one need closet his or her sexual identity.
Discriminating against someone for his or her sexual orientation is unacceptable. We parade and celebrate identities that once were subject to ridicule and acts of violence.
Many of these parades occur on or around June 28, the date the Stonewall riots began in 1969 in protest against regular police raids on gay bars in Greenwich Village. Law enforcers intentionally harassed patrons. They also colluded with the Mafia, which owned the Stonewall bar, to blackmail gay patrons under threat that if they did not pay hush money they would be outed.
Yet even in the midst of a celebration of our newfound openness and tolerance a new strain of hatred has emerged. On Saturday, during the annual Chicago Dyke March, participants proved they had learned nothing from the lessons of Stonewall. As the Dyke March commenced, three people carrying Jewish Pride flags were asked to leave.
As documented in the Chicago-based LGBTQ newspaper Windy City Times, “It seemed as if the entire gender, racial and sexual spectrum was represented, walking hand-inhand and demonstrating a powerful unity as they chanted ‘We are Dyke March’ in English and Spanish… however, Dyke March Collective also ejected three people carrying Jewish Pride flags.”
Those ejected belonged to the nonprofit “A Wider Bridge,” which builds connections between LGBTQ communities in North America and Israel. A Wider Bridge Midwest Manager Laurel Grauer told the Windy City Times she lost count of the times she was harassed for holding the flag, which, she said “celebrates my queer, Jewish identity.”
Eleanor Shoshany-Anderson, who identified as an “Iranian Jew,” said the “march is supposed to be intersectional. I don’t know why my identity is excluded from that.”
Though we sympathize with Shoshany-Anderson’s suffering, we must disagree with her thinking: her fellow marchers did not discriminate against her despite intersectionality, rather because of intersectionality.
What is intersectionality? It is a vogue theory – particularly on the Left – that essentially posits a hierarchy of oppression. It first appeared in the feminist movement when black women complained that their unique struggles were not adequately addressed by the elitist white women (many of whom Jewish) who dominated the movement. But it has since developed into a form of discourse in which one’s identity determines the extent of one’s suffering and, therefore, the justness of one’s grievances in isolation from reason.
In the cases of Grauer and Shoshany-Anderson intersectionality works to their disadvantage because in addition to their sexual identity they also share a Jewish or Israeli identity.
There is no contest in the clash between the pro-Palestinian gay and the Zionist gay. In the parallel universe of intersectionality, Israel is not the only place in the Middle East where the rights of homosexuals are protected and where Palestinian homosexuals can find refuge from repression in an intolerant Palestinian society. It is a place where colonialist, white Jews oppress an indigenous Palestinian population. No matter that the State of Israel was a refuge for Jews after the Holocaust, that Jews’ connection to this particularly land is undeniable and that most Israelis have roots in Muslim countries.
Reason does not apply in the parallel universe of intersectionality.
And that’s why it has become such a congenial environment for antisemitism. Certain dogmas must be accepted: America is evil; whites are privileged; Israel is evil; Muslim countries cannot be held to the same moral standards as the West (therefore, capital punishment for homosexuality in Iran or Saudi Arabia does not spark indignation in the LGBTQ community). Anyone who does not accept these axioms deserves the severest rebuke and shaming.
And so we have come full circle, back to the era of Stonewall when individuals were made to feel they must hide aspects of their identity for fear they would be derided or worse. But this time those expected to enter the closet are whites, Jews, Zionists and other purportedly “privileged” groups. Gay pride parades or dyke marches were conceived to be celebrations of LGBTQ identity. Sadly, they have become venues for bigotry and intolerance.