Monday, August 03, 2009

Israel: The Gay Youth and the Candle of Hope

Of all the sad stories I read today about that horrible attack on that gay youth centre in Israel, I thought this one was the saddest.

Huddled, crying and speaking in hushed tones, two dozen 16-year-olds waited outside the Intensive Care Unit at Sourasky Medical Center (Ichilov Hospital) in Tel Aviv on Sunday.

The atmosphere among the teens in the corridor was as you would expect - quiet, exhausted and desperate....However, one element was missing on Sunday afternoon; there were no adults present.

"I could never tell my mom that I was gay. If I did, she would just say, 'Son, you are young and confused, you don't know what you want.' But, I am not confused, I know I am gay and I come to the youth center so that I can express myself in a safe environment and among those who are sympathetic not homophobic."

No parents to comfort them because the kids don't want them to know they're gay.... because they're afraid they won't love them anymore. Or hate them like so many others do. Or throw them into the street like so many parents do....even in places like Canada.

It can't get more depressing than that ......or this:

"We go to the youth club because that is where we feel safe. But now I don't feel I can go back there. It's no longer safe. Tel Aviv is as bad as the other neighborhoods in Israel, they all hate homosexuals."

But even in the darkest hour there is always a small candle of hope. The attack on the gay youth centre has forced Israeli society to take a hard look at the religious fanatics in their midst. The settlers and other extremist right-wing groups who are poisoning that country not just with their disgusting homophobia, and their medieval sexism. But also and above all, with their rabid hatred of Palestinians.

From Bradley Burston, who was the conscience of Israel during the horror of Gaza, a prayer for the gay kids

Cause me, Lord, to shed this defective armor,
Which we call clothing, respectability, convention,
The mask which we mistake for loyalty to tribe.
The mask which keeps me from seeing the face behind the mask of the tribe we have come to call enemy.

Which is also a prayer for the future of Israel.

So maybe something good will come out of this sad story. I hope so. In the meantime my message to the bigots in Israel or Canada or wherever, remains the same.

You will NEVER beat us. Our beautiful gay youth will NOT be denied a better world.

And when you attack one of us.

You attack us ALL...

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