Monday, December 18, 2006

Homophobia and Global Justice

Homophobia and Global Justice by Queer Undermining Israeli Terrorism

On Saturday, November 4, several of us from LAGAI and a number of other lesbians and gay men attended a demonstration in support of the Palestinian people at Justin Hermann Plaza in San Francisco. This action had been initiated by American Muslims for Global Peace and Justice (called Global Justice for short), a South Bay group, but was called a "mass rally" and endorsed by many secular organizations, including LAGAI. We brought our banner, a timeless relic of the Gulf War reading, "U.S. Out of Iraq, Israel Out of Occupied Palestine/Lesbians and Gays Against Intervention".

While we were standing in the plaza, several people came up to us and thanked us for our solidarity. After about an hour, just before the march was to leave, one of the organizers came up to Daniel (the only man in our group) and asked him if we would take our banner down because some of the Islamic clergy and lay leadership objected to our presence as open lesbians and gay men. We said that we would leave if they asked us to, but that we would not march or participate in the demonstration without our banner. While the organizers considered what to do, we remained standing with our banner and the men who objected to our presence came to argue with us and tell us that we were anti-Islamic and thus anti-Palestinian, and that "lesbians and gays are not part of the movement for global justice," (Deeg informed them that we certainly are and have been for a long time). Kate mentioned that not all Palestinians are Muslim, but they not surprisingly ignored her. One man and his son tried to rip the banner, but the other men told them not to.

While all this was going on, many of the Muslim people present came up to us, asked what was happening and shook their heads, saying, "This is not right," or "Ignore them and march anyway." We made it clear that we would respect the decision of the organizers, and after about 20 minutes of tense discussion, they asked us to take our banner down. The march left, and most of the straight secular leftists went with it, some groups saying that they would take down their banners in protest but wanted to participate in the march and rally. Some straight leftists remained behind in the plaza with us. A gay man spoke at the rally without identifying himself as gay, but did make a plea for "inclusion."

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