Sunday, August 02, 2009
Israel: When Gay Teenagers Become Targets
They were already victims of hate even though they are just teenagers. Many of them had been thrown out of their homes because they were gay. They were in a place that welcomed them with open arms. A place they thought was safe.
But still the haters found them.
A masked man entered the center for gay teens in downtown Tel Aviv late Saturday night, pulled out a pistol and opened fire
"I took cover with someone under a table, and he kept firing....When I got up it was horrifying, I just saw blood."
And now everyone is shocked, but nobody is surprised.
Mike Hamel, a gay rights activist whose organization runs the youth club, said the center served as a safe place where gay teens — many of them still concealing their sexual identity from their families and friends — could meet with counselors and other teenagers. He blamed religious incitement against homosexuals for the attack.
"Beyond the pain, the frustration and the anger, we are facing a situation in which the incitement to hate creates an environment that allows this to happen..."
Because first comes the hate, and then come the bullets. Even in a place like Canada.
Where those who defend the right to free hate speech are just paving the way to violence. And Stephen Harper's government is allowing the theocons in the PMO to treat gay people like second class citizens. And call our Pride Parades sex parades.
When, whether they are in Toronto or Tel Aviv or wherever, they're a celebration of life and survival.
Pride is not a grand street party for drag queens and guys wearing bathing suits; pride is a display of power by the community – it is a way to support teenagers and adults who feel the growing hatred on their flesh. The pride parade is a message to everyone who wishes to see us disappear that we are here and we are proud; we will support the victims of hatred, but we will not bow our heads. We will not hide.
Because I didn't ever hide, I was a target of homophobic violence when I was a teenager. So when I first heard the news I felt like the Israeli lesbian songwriter Rona Kenan does...
"The very thought that a person might enter that protected space and simply open fire at them is shocking. I just want to cry."
But then I read the headlines.
The covers of Sunday's newspapers all featured photos of the bloodstained floors of the youth club and headlines such as "Massacre of the Proud Youth" and "Terror Against the Proud Community."
And I still felt sad but also proud of my brothers and sisters in Israel. And I really LOVED those signs at a rally in Tel Aviv tonight.
Because I also believe that with all my heart.
Down with homophobia. Hate KILLS. Live and let love. And in Israel as in Canada.
We are not AFRAID...