This past Friday, a few of us trekked over to Haifa to represent Open House in their annual Pride March. I wasn’t really sure what to expect – I had been to Tel Aviv Pride a few weeks back and while I knew this would be different, I was surprised at just how different the two were. The short of it was that Pride in Tel Aviv was a party and Pride in Haifa was a protest. Tel Aviv was about celebrating how far the LGBT community has come in the city and Haifa was about how much work still needs to be done.
And to be perfectly honest, I liked Haifa Pride much better than Tel Aviv’s. In many ways, it felt like a breath of fresh reality – the issues at hand were actually addressed instead of being glossed over for the sake of partying. This is not to say the event was somber, but rather, it was quite inspiring. The theme of the event, as many of the speakers brought up, was that Haifa should be a city for everyone. As such, this wasn’t only a struggle against homophobia, but against racism (one speaker specifically detailed the links between this and the racism that Ethiopian and Mizrachi Jews face in the city), sexism and any other oppression that plagued the city.
(thanks to Maiya for the picture!)
But what I found most inspiring was the feeling of solidarity going around. Although there were only a couple of hundred people here compared to Tel Aviv’s couple of thousands, the unity among the Marchers, some carrying Israeli flags, some representing Palestinian solidarity, some from LGBT Orthodox groups and a even a couple of Knesset members was really unlike anything I’ve seen before. Everyone was serious and passionate about making change and the energy was infectious – it really reminded me of why the work done here at Open House is so important. I left feeling much more uplifted than I did in Tel Aviv, even if this March was much more honest about the situation. After attending Haifa Pride, it definitely made me that much more excited to see this kind of action and solidarity and the upcoming Jerusalem Pride March.