Pride - Or Prejudice? The Dyke March Has Banned Jewish Symbols. Again. by the Forward

The Dyke March Banned Jewish Symbols. Again.

The Dyke March is perhaps most famous for a 2017 fiasco, when the organizers forcefully removed Jewish women from marching for the crime of holding Jewish pride flags.

It’s back, this time for a march in Washington D.C. this Friday. And though the march bills itself as radically inclusive for lesbians of all stripes, it has already made clear that it means all lesbians but the Jewish ones.

Opinion | The Dyke March Banned Jewish Symbols. Again.

In a Washington Post article, organizers of the DC Dyke March said they are explicitly forbidding any flags with “national symbols,” including “flags that resemble Israeli flags, such as a pride flag with a Star of David in the middle.” The Palestinian flag, however, will be allowed, in case there was any confusion on that front. For anyone who might show up proud of their Jewish nationality, “We have trained marshals and deescalators ready to intervene in instances of conflict,” as one of the organizers told AJ Campbell, the founder of the lesbian group Nice Jewish Girls, via Facebook Messenger.

This is not progressive. It’s anti-Semitic. And it’s disgusting.

The organizers have insisted that their ban is on Zionist symbols, not Jewish ones. But the star of David is one of Judaism’s oldest symbols. It dates back many centuries before the founding of Israel.

And what kind of a march bans rainbow Jewish flags while allowing Palestinian flags? LGBTQ people have no rights under the Palestinian Authority and are even killed in Gaza for being open with their identity.

What the march has done is ban all queer Jews who feel any connection to Israel — which is itself anti-Semitic given that Jews are not collectively responsible for the actions of other Jews or for the Israeli government, any more than Muslims, blacks, Asians or any other group of people are.

If this isn’t clear, think about what it would mean if you asked a Chinese American to condemn China’s internment of Muslims or its occupation of Tibet; it would be obvious that you are racially profiling. If you asked every Muslim what they think of ISIS, it would be clear that you were engaging in Islamophobic behavior. And if you think every public display of Jewish life is connected to Benjamin Netanyahu’s Israel, you’re an anti-Semite.

It’s not complicated when we see bigotry waged against other groups. But when Jews call out our own oppression, it’s dismissed as being less important, or not real at all.

It’s bewildering how the same people who devote their lives to social justice can justify a ban that plays into the worst anti-Semitic tropes that have plagued Jews throughout history. One of the lead organizers, Mary Quintero-Wright, has defended the ban on Jewish flags on the grounds that “displacement is a queer issue. Everything is intersectional.”

Well, if banning Jews is considered intersectional, that’s not pride — it’s prejudice. They can call it what they want, but it’s bigotry, plain and simple.

Every LGBTQ person knows what it’s like to conceal our identity in public. It’s painful and humiliating. It’s still legal in most of the country to fire someone for being LGBTQ! That’s the point of pride parades: to express that openly and proudly.

Now, Jews wishing to march in DC’s Dyke March have to hide their expression of Jewish identity.

There’s a horrific irony to it. Marriage equality was won by two Jewish women, Edie Windsor and Roberta Kaplan. If we’re celebrating the achievements of LGBTQ history, how can we exclude the very people and communities that made it possible?

If you want to erase Jews from your pride parade, you’re going to have to erase the contributions Jews have made to history, and that would mean turning back the clock. LGBTQ trailblazers like Martha Shelley, Renee Richards, and Jazz Jennings would be banned if they waved a flag reflecting their two identities. Degrading Jews means degrading LGBTQ heroes like Harvey Milk, Frank Kameny, Larry Kramer, and Evan Wolfson. Expelling Jews is a slap in the face to Magnus Hirschfeld, who fled Nazis because he was a queer Jew, and the first known person to advocate for LGBT rights. If you stand for trans rights, you have him to thank; he pioneered the first gender reassignment surgery.

The first openly gay member of congress, Barney Frank? Jewish.

The first openly gay elected governor, Jared Polis? Jewish.

The congressman leading the passage of the Equality Act, David Ciciline? Jewish.

Opinion | The Dyke March Banned Jewish Symbols. Again.

If a rainbow flag with a crescent were banned we would all rightfully condemn that as Islamophobic. Why is it different when the flag has a Star of David on it?

I refuse to go back in the closet. And I refuse to conceal my Jewish identity to make others feel comfortable.

Peter Fox is a writer who focuses on the intersection of LGBT identity and Jewish world politics. His writing has been featured in the Times of Israel and New Voices Magazine. Follow him on twitter @thatpeterfox.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.

Author

Peter Fox

Peter Fox

Peter Fox is a writer who focuses on the intersection of LGBT identity and Jewish world politics. His writing has been featured in the Times of Israel and New Voices Magazine. Follow him on twitter @thatpeterfox.

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The Dyke March Banned Jewish Symbols. Again.

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