Queer activists trying to ramp up Palestinian support at Pride events – Orange County Register

The Pride movement, born in protest, is bringing its legacy of activism to the streets to sound off on the Israel-Hamas war.

Across California, queer activists are using the visibility for LGBTQ+ people and rights during June’s Pride Month as a way to encourage others to speak up about what is happening in the Middle East.

Among those marching during the 54th annual Los Angeles Pride Parade on Sunday, June 9, will be Code Pink Southeast Los Angeles, a branch of the feminist group Code Pink that advocates for the “liberation of all people,” according to its Instagram. It will push the slogan “No Pride in Genocide,” a nationwide campaign for LGBTQ+ people to support Palestinians. The group also will participate in Whittier’s pop-up Pride parade on Saturday, June 15.

Code Pink SELA will be joined at LA Pride by activist group Queers For Palestine LA.

Roots of activism

LGBTQ+ people have a long history of activism. Pride Month celebrates the history of the Stonewall uprising in New York, which started the modern gay rights movement. The violent demonstrations over six nights in 1969 came in response to police brutality and the persecution of LGBTQ+ people.

But the Palestinian cause is a complex one for some in the queer community to embrace, primarily because of the lack of rights in Gaza for those in the LGBTQ+ community.

“As an LGBTQ+ member, it was embarrassing to me to see that these pride parades and festivals were happening and no one in my community was being vocal about what’s going on in Palestine,” said Code Pink SELA organizer Glo Mendoza, 36. “I was not OK with the LGBTQ community not showing up for Palestine during these celebrations of our own.”

Mendoza said her goal was to “be a voice for Palestinians” to “educate people in the crowd.”

Most activists support a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas conflict, which started after the Oct. 7 Hamas attack in Israel that resulted in about 1,200 deaths and the taking of 250 hostages. Gaza’s Health Ministry claims at least 36,000 Palestinians have been killed in the Israel offensive, which on Saturday resulted in the rescue of four hostagesin the largest such rescue operation since the war began.

Code Pink SELA was one of the only groups at past Pride events showcasing calls for a ceasefire, waving Palestinian flags and carrying signs reading “free Palestine” and “Pride has always been a protest.”

Mendoza said the group also appeared at the Long Beach Pride Parade in May and the West Hollywood Pride Parade on June 2. “The whole time we marched, we received an overwhelming amount of support from the crowd,” Mendoza said.

Mendoza said it’s important for LGBTQ+ people to speak out and educate themselves and others on “what’s currently happening to Palestinian people.”

“The Pride parade is a protest, that’s why we believe it was a perfect place to protest,” Mendoza said.

Queers Against Antisemitism

Offering a different LGBTQ+ perspective is the Jewish activism group Queers Against Antisemitism, which has worked to stop “rampant antisemitism” that has increased dramatically since Oct. 7. QAA’s slogan is “No Pride in Antisemitism” and the group has been vocal on Instagram about various Pride events across the U.S.

“As supporters of Palestinian rights and firm believers in a just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we find it deeply troubling that the leaderships of the pro-Palestinian movement, and those aligned with it, have chosen to remain silent in the face of blatant antisemitism,” said one of the group’s posts.

QAA is powered by A Wider Bridge, a group that hopes to “build meaningful relationships with Israel and LGBTQ people in Israel.”

“We need LGBTQ leaders and pride organizers to be clear that everyone is welcome, that LGBTQ Jews and other supporters of Israel will be fully included that they won’t gatekeep us,” said Ethan Felson, Wider Bridge’s executive director. “We need them to ensure that we’ll be safe from heckling or violence, because that’s a real fear. We need them to make sure that no one takes our pride away. No one should have a right to do that.”

Felson said the LGBTQ+ Jewish nonprofit group JQ International participated in the WeHo Pride Parade, marching for Zionist queer Jewish people to be visible. They were not available for comment.

Persecution in Gaza

Though LGBTQ+ rights enjoy support in Israel, the queer community faces persecution in Gaza under its British Mandate Criminal Code Ordinance 1936, which bans same-sex activity. Nevertheless, some in the LGBTQ+ community remain steadfast in their support of the Palestinians.

Israel, they say, is engaged in a “propaganda strategy” to project its progressive image while simultaneously oppressing Palestinians, a tactic they call “pinkwashing.”

“Historically, queer and trans Palestinians have always been part of the fabric of being Palestinian,” said Yaffa AS, a queer and trans Palestinian activist and author who serves as executive director of the Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity. “And it’s really more of the colonial systems that are telling us that we are separate, that we are different.”

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