Why I Didn’t Go to Gay Pride Parade

By Batsheva Haber

Warning.This following presentation was modified to make you mad.
Regardless of whether you are one of my liberal friends or one of my conservative ones – this will probably anger you, which is why I’m not really sure if I should be posting this. That being said, I think maybe this point of view needs to be heard, and maybe just maybe, some of you agree with me…

DSC_0834“So are you coming to the parade on Friday?”
It was after class on the week of the Tel Aviv Gay Pride Parade, and I was confronted or “ambushed” by one of my friends (who also happens to be gay). He asked it jokingly, assuming the answer was a clear no, not knowing what an uncomfortable position that question put me in. It was the same question that I had been asking myself all week.

It is no secret that I am religious, I have the skirt and sleeves to prove it. And yet I also see myself as a libertarian – and try to accept others as they are and for what they believe in. Of course those things are both easier said than done, not to mention when they are together.

The issue of the LGBT community is probably one of the hardest ones, if not the hardest, to face as a religious libertarian. Over the last few years I have made quite a few gay friends, openly gay and in the closet, religious and secular, and some in between. My interactions with them forced me to reexamine the issues that they face on a day to day basis.

One thing is clear to me. I accept these friends as they are, and I think that as a community we must do that as well. To me these people are first and foremost people, and first and foremost my friends. I don’t see them as their actions or as their sexual orientation, but rather as the people they are – who all in all, I seem to like and get along with. As I’ve said to a few of them on different occasions – “what you do in your bedroom is between you and God, and trust me, I don’t want to know about it – regardless of your sexual orientation!!” Being gay is just part of who they are, and frankly quite irrelevant to our friendship. Of this I have no doubt. It is clear and pashut “ben adam lechavero”.

But when we put things in a religious prospective, these issues get a little more complicated. As I said earlier, I am a religious orthodox Jew. No matter how much I don’t understand a Halacha (religious commandment), or how much it even seems “wrong” to me – I accept it, and try to abide by it, as hard as it may be for me personally.

I honestly don’t understand why God put these restrictions on the gay community, and it pains me greatly to think of anyone faced with these challenges – let alone my friends. I also have not studied these laws in depth, and most definitely do not have answers for the questions that arise. That being said, as a religious observant person – I cannot give my “kosher stamp” on anything that is against Halacha, especially ones that I don’t know anything about. I don’t do it when my friends try to justify not being “shomer negia”, I don’t give my approval when asked for it from my friends who choose to no longer keep Shabbat, nor do I accept arguments for disregarding any Halacha. But I respect your choices, and think that you need to do what you think is right. I just ask that you do the same for me.

So again – any members of the gay community, particularly the religious ones, can weigh out the different factors, can study the Halachot, and can make their own decisions on how to act or not act. As I said before, I do not, and will not judge you on that. But please do not ask me to come out in support for something, that as a religious person, I cannot feel comfortable with.

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4 thoughts on “Why I Didn’t Go to Gay Pride Parade

  1. The sleeves and skirts to prove it? I wasn’t aware that judaism was reduced to what we wear. Why is that rabbinic decree of covering up any more “religious” than eating kosher? Or treating someone with respect?

    • Hi Charles! of course I don’t think that the sleeves are what make you religious. It was an attempt (albeit not a very good one) to make that exact point in a humorous and light way. I also eat kosher and I hope that this article proves that I try to treat everyone with respect. I apologize if that comment offended you or anyone, that was not my intention!

  2. Hi Batsheva,

    I’m not sure I understand your argument here. Did you not go to the parade because it wasn’t tzanua and/or that you think your attendance is directly prohibited by halacha? If so, I can fully understand why you didn’t attend.

    Or did you not go because you felt that your presence as a religious woman was tacit approval of “homosexuality” – a position with which you take issue with because you believe the Torah assurs homosexuality? If this is the case, I would encourage you to think this in time for the parade in Jerusalem. There is indeed a Torah prohibition of a certain sex act between men. Chazal arguably extended this prohibition to all sex acts between men and between women. However, the Torah does not address sexual identity. There is not issur for a man to be attracted to another man, nor could there be. Whatever the cause, it is out of one’s control.

    Pride is about self acceptance and the stove for civil rights. As a self described “religious libertarian”, these are certainly values that you can proudly stand behind. As you said, what people do in the privacy if c they’re own homes is there own issue. But the struggle for equal rights for all people is received concern.

    Hope to see you in Jerusalem on July 30th!

    • Hello Brad,

      Although I also am uncomfortable with some of the things that go on at the parade, this is not the reason I did not go. I also wouldn’t go as far as saying that it is halachicly prohibited to go to the parade.

      Yes, it is only the act that is problematic in halacha, but more over, the parade is not just calling for pride in your identity, it also stands for those problematic issues, and therefore would put me in an uncomfortable place as a religious person. I wholeheartedly support that everyone should be proud of who they are, and that our society should accept everyone. But this is not all that the parade represents.

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