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West Bank, Gaza no haven for LGBT Palestinians

‘Pink washing’ allegation against Israel doesn’t wash



Tel Aviv, Israel, gay news, Washington Blade, gay pride

Tel Aviv Pride. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

The recent opinion editorial “Seattle mayor’s trip highlights dangers of pink washing” tried to make the point that the gay mayor of Seattle’s address in Israel at the 40th anniversary of Tel Aviv Pride was done to distract attention from Israel’s control of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and its impact on Palestinians.

The author contends that the mayor’s visit to Israel and the West Bank was nothing more than “pink washing” a pejorative term for highlighting Israel’s pro-LGBT policies without recognizing the pain and suffering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has caused to both sides. This is nonsense.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray visited the only Democratic state in the Middle East and the only one that protects the rights of all minorities, including gay and lesbian citizens. His visit to Israel as well as time spent in the West Bank, where he experienced firsthand the challenges facing the Israeli and the Palestinian populations is one that is often taken by American elected officials to understand the daily security threats the Israeli people endure. As the Syrian war continues to rage on at Israel’s northern border and the threat of ISIS grows throughout the Middle East, Israel’s strong and vibrant democracy is needed more than ever.

While in Tel Aviv, Mayor Murray spoke at a conference marking the 40th anniversary of Tel Aviv Pride, which reflected the accomplishments and continuing work that Israel needs to do to achieve true equality. This conference was hosted by the U.S.-based NGO A Wider Bridge, which promotes LGBT support for Israel and the Agudah, Israel’s version of the Human Rights Campaign. Israel’s record on LGBT issues has been one of the strong hallmarks of a democratic and civil society and includes being one of the first countries to allow gays to serve openly in the military, allowing equality at workplaces and recognizing same sex marriages performed outside of Israel. Tel Aviv’s vibrant gay community is known for its 150,000 strong Pride march as well as a vibrant LGBT center supported by politicians of all stripes.

Finally the author talks about the treatment of the Palestinian people. While the majority of Israelis recognize the need for a two-state solution, the gay community has been some of the most vocal in their support. While pointing fingers at Israel though, and the Israeli people, the author seems to miss the fact that to be gay in the West Bank or Gaza is a very scary proposition for most Palestinians. Since the Oslo Peace Agreement, Israel has given the Palestinian Authority civil authority over the West Bank, and since 2005’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, Hamas has been the governing authority there. Neither the Palestinian Authority nor Hamas recognizes LGBT rights and has maintained a hostile environment for gay citizens forcing them to flee their homes. Many of these gay Palestinians have found refuge in Europe and North America.

Israel is not perfect, and Israel has much further to go to provide equality for all, but to say that Israel’s acceptance, recognition and freedom of LGBT citizens is somehow “pink washing” is trying to divert attention from the poor record for LGBT Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.


Christopher Scott McCannell is a member of the advisory board of A Wider Bridge, a group that promotes connections between LGBT Americans and Israelis. In addition he serves on the board of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington.

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  1. Kyle

    July 10, 2015 at 9:19 am

    Yes, LGBT people in Tel Aviv have it better than they do in Nablus. But everyone person in Tel Aviv has it better than people in Nablus. Are we really going to accept the tiny token of better acceptance of LGBT people as license to overrun the remainder of Palestine? I’m pretty sure enacting a slow-motion genocide of the Palestinian people is how NOT to win the Middle East over the progressive thinking on social issues.

    • Imho

      July 13, 2015 at 2:16 pm

      Pretty distorted way of presenting your concerns. You can accept that Israel has done a tremendous job at evolving lbgtq rights and cultures. It is not a tiny token. And…. Accepting that would not diminish your other concerns. Rather, you would sound more credible rather that simply “anti Israel.”

      • Kyle

        July 14, 2015 at 9:10 am

        The thing is, I am pro-Israel. As in I want Israel to continue to exist. But Israel is doing everything in its power to alienate any allies, actual or potential, by its unchecked elimination of the remainder of Palestine. The West Bank settlements need to end and need to be dismantled, and the lands restored to the Palestinian people. Gaza needs to be freed. It is essentially an open air prison, into which Israel rains down destruction at will. How can I celebrate the “freedoms” of gays in Tel Aviv when Palestinian children are mowed down while playing soccer on the beach?

    • zionist&proud

      July 14, 2015 at 3:01 am

      As a gay man living in Tel Aviv, I cherish the rights that I have that no gay man living in Nablus could dream about, like openly criticizing my government while holding my boyfriend’s hand at a pro-marriage equality rally.

  2. Brooks Austin

    July 11, 2015 at 12:12 pm

    I find it hypocritical that this author decries pink washing as nonsense, then engages in pink washing themselves. This article is a textbook example of the hypocrisy of pink washers. And the notion that the people of Israel face daily threats to their security is such a load of rubbish, I find it hard to think anyone takes it seriously.

    • Imho

      July 13, 2015 at 2:09 pm

      Seems like you’re just hurling the term without questioning. The reality is that Israel is a relatively welcoming place for queers. The Arab world, anywhere, is unwelcoming and often dangerous. This is not “pinkwashing,” it’s the reality for lbgtq people in these very different cultures.

      • uhhuhh

        July 13, 2015 at 3:57 pm

        I don’t call it welcoming for Netanyahu to use our electronic eavesdropping to identify gay Palestinians and out them if they don’t become Israeli snitches.

        • Imho

          July 13, 2015 at 4:26 pm

          Perhaps true, though I doubt it. More importantly, queers in Palestinian territories and Arab countries in general are hounded, harassed, threatened and sometimes killed by their own families, and thrown off buildings by extremists in the name of Islam. In Israel, sodomy laws were overturned even before in the U.S., there are anti discrimination laws in employment, right to serve openly in the military and the legislature. Yes, there’s a ways to go in this area and others. But painting a black and white picture and demonizing Israel is dishonest, distorts credibility and doesn’t help anyone.

          • uhhuhh

            July 13, 2015 at 6:07 pm

            First, I’m not sure why you think I need “educating” about any of that. I also know that there is no such thing as civil marriage because marriage has been handed to the ultra-orthodox to control, and they don’t permit same-sex marriages. I also know that gay Israelis thus have to scour the planet for another country that will allow them to marry if they wish to get married. I also know that a bill to allow civil marriage was just rejected in the Knesset.

            Second, I don’t know what it is that you supposedly doubt. The campaign to identify and out gay Palestinians was widely reported, including in the Guardian and New York Times.

            You and this article author are the one painting black and white picture. I notice you didn’t mention the ultra-orthodox throwing their own feces at Jerusalem pride either.

          • Imho

            July 13, 2015 at 6:31 pm

            Right…. Worst country in the world. Probably best you don’t visit after all. Cheers.

          • uhhuhh

            July 13, 2015 at 7:54 pm

            “Worst country in the world”? LOL! Omg listen to yourself. “Watch me set up a straw man and play victim!” I posted one negative comment to provide a hint of balance to this ridiculous article, and you launch into a massive propaganda crusade. Please don’t kid yourself and imagine that you have any semblance of balance.

            P.S. I like how you couldn’t refute anything I said.

          • Imho

            July 13, 2015 at 8:02 pm

            “Negative” is your operative word. Cheers! Bye.

          • uhhuhh

            July 13, 2015 at 8:57 pm

            “Propagandize” is yours. I didn’t re-elect the warmongering racist.

  3. uhhuhh

    July 11, 2015 at 3:23 pm

    I’m soooooo over the sniveling sycophants for that racist warmonger Netanyahu demanding that American LGBTs hate Palestinians as much as they do and fawn over that Likud bigot. The Israelis re-elected the bigot. The only remaining alternative is divestment and boycotting.

    • Imho

      July 13, 2015 at 2:12 pm

      This is not about demanding that we should hate Palestinians. It’s about recognizing that the situation there is not black and white. You can sympathize with both “sides”, recognize wrongs committed by both, and still recognize that Israel has a pretty wonderful queer scene that simply doesn’t exist anywhere else in the region.

      • uhhuhh

        July 13, 2015 at 3:53 pm

        I disagree. It is all about propagandizing the gays and goading us into praising Netanyahu. This clumsy campaign to exploit our sexual orientation has been going on for several years now. In its most toxic form, it smugly attacks us as bad gays and accuses us of not caring about gay rights. I find the entire marketing strategy crass and insulting.

        • Imho

          July 13, 2015 at 4:17 pm

          I disagree. It’s really not “all about propagandizing”. It really is a different culture and different mindset around queer issues. Perhaps you’ll find yourself visiting there sometime. I think both “sides” would appreciate people visiting with an open mind.

          • uhhuhh

            July 13, 2015 at 6:03 pm

            Sorry, but I have no intention of visiting and subjecting myself to the barrage of intelligence-insulting propaganda that visitors are subjected to.

            And, yes, exploiting gay rights is a propaganda tactic that’s been around for several years. Netanyahu cares about gay rights only to the extent they can be used as a political wedge. Then he suddenly forgets about gay rights when interfering with the US presidential election in an effort to show an anti-gay bigot down our throats as president. Spare us the propagandizing.

          • Imho

            July 14, 2015 at 3:35 am

            It’s not about “propagandizing.” And yes, activists across the spectrum in both communities would love for people to visit and have expressed that.

            Interesting that you have “no intention of visiting” but are so sure of the “propaganda that visitors are subjected to.” Sounds like you have NO first hand knowledge. Perhaps you’ll find an opening in your heart some day.

          • uhhuhh

            July 14, 2015 at 12:23 pm

            “Perhaps you’ll find an opening in your heart some day.”

            LOL! Yeah, it’s so heartless of me to oppose the construction of illegal settlements and the endless warmongering, anti-Muslim bigotry, and anti-Arab racism of Netanyahu and the Israeli right.

            OMG, OMG, OMG, I posted non-flattering observations to give mild balance to a ridiculously one-side glorification of Israel. I must be stopped! That must be shut down! It’s undermining the aggressive propaganda mission!

            Save your condescension for someone who is vulnerable to your pathetic effort at manipulation.

          • Imho

            July 14, 2015 at 12:58 pm

            Have a nice day.

  4. zionist&proud

    July 14, 2015 at 2:57 am

    As a gay man living in Tel Aviv, I can openly kiss my boyfriend in the streets while wearing a t shirt critical of my government and not get harassed by the police or the public. I would not be allowed to do that in any of my neighboring Arab countries or in the West Bank or Gaza Strip.

    That’s not ‘pink-washing’. That’s just stating the obvious about the homophobic, anti-free speech region I live in.

    • Kyle

      July 14, 2015 at 10:22 am

      The facts of your life in Tel Aviv are not pinkwashing. You have a good life and I’m happy for you.

      Pinkwashing is when governments and other entities take the facts of lives like yours and use those to try to propagandize the public and insure US complicity in whatever policies the Israeli government pursues, up to and including the elimination of the Palestinian territories. That doesn’t change the fact that the facts of your life are good. It just means that there has been the selective choosing of those facts, to the exclusion of other facts, for propagandizing purposes. That’s what pinkwashing is.

      • zionist&proud

        July 15, 2015 at 2:08 am

        Pinkwashing is a term developed by critics of Israel who wanted to portray Israel in the worst way so they go after every positive element of Israeli society accusing it of ulterior motives.

        Pinkwashing denies the tens of thousands of Israelis who bravely came out to their parents and friends before ‘coming out’ was a socially-accepted form of expression.

        Pinkwashing was a term coined by a college professor at a university in NYC who had a history of anti-Israel rhetoric.

        You call it pinkwashing. I call it for what it is: Good old-fashioned anti-Semitism.

        • Kyle

          July 15, 2015 at 9:13 am

          Criticizing Israel is not the same as anti-Semitism because Israel is not the same as the Jews. The Jews are an ethnic group who are found all over the world. Israel is a nation state in the Middle East which has a population consisting of Jews, Muslim and Christian Palestinians, etc. When people conflate criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism, they are not offering anything substantive to the argument. They just want to shut the whole discussion down. Well, guess what? You’ve succeeded. The discussion is shut down. It’s clear we cannot even agree to disagree.

          • Imho

            July 15, 2015 at 12:26 pm

            That’s not entirely true. Sometimes, there is obsessive criticism of Israel to the point of demonizing or holding her to standards not applied to other countries. And sometimes, yes, criticism of Israel does indeed serve to mask anti-Semitism. When there are more resolutions at the UNHRC against Israel than all other countries combined (China, Syria, North Korea, Saudi Arabia included) something is askew. When there are calls to boycott Israel, while ignoring abuses elsewhere, it indeed smacks of more than meets the eye.

  5. James Menop

    July 30, 2015 at 12:41 pm

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The future of lesbian bars

Resolve to support our queer spaces in 2022



lockdown zone, gay news, Washington Blade

This New Year, I hope you wish for more lesbian bars across the country. The story of lesbian bars in the U.S. has been slightly tragic of late: as of January 2021, there were only 15 clubs or bars dedicated to queer women across the country. 

That’s right—only 15. Across all 50 states. 

In Washington, D.C., my hometown, A League of Her Own stands out as the only lesbian bar in the city, dedicated to queer women. Located in Adams Morgan, A League of Her Own, also known as ALOHO, is a small mecca for queer ladies to pass through, socialize, and flirt. ALOHO is a chic gathering point for all queer folk, with posters of softball players dotting the walls and gender neutral signs lying about. 

Several years ago, another lesbian bar called Phase 1 existed in Southeast, where queer women could slam eight balls in pool games and engage in raunchy yet ever-so-hot jello wrestling competitions. 

Unfortunately, Phase 1 shut its doors in 2016. 

So what explains the closure of so many lesbian bars, while bars for gay men continue to flourish? Perhaps many queer women view gay bars as a space for their own as well, whereas gay men view lesbian bars as less of a place for them to socialize. 

Either way, we need to give support to lesbian bars now more than ever. Tokens of support can take many forms. 

For one, make sure to socialize in spaces dedicated to queer ladies. There are three lesbian bars in New York City: Cubbyhole (281 W. 12th St.), Gingers in Brooklyn (363 5th Ave.), and Henrietta Hudson (438 Hudson St.). Next time you visit the Big Apple, make sure to give these three spots some love. Maybe drag your experimenting bi friend to these locations. Or your pansexual roommate. 

Back in D.C., you can buy unisex shirts in A League of Her Own’s merchandise store, available online. 

Proceeds will go toward funding the bar, and making sure it stays afloat, especially during this COVID economy. 

Most of all, I hope you encourage your queer lady friends to keep on frequenting queer lady destinations. After all, there is only one thing that will keep lesbian bars afloat—and that is attendance. 

I, for one, will be frequenting many lesbian destinations this new year.  

Isaac Amend is a Yale graduate and participated in National Geographic’s ‘Gender Revolution’ documentary. He also is a member of the LGBT Democrats of Virginia, and contributes regularly to the Blade. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @isaacamend.

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Breaking barriers as an out trans ‘Jeopardy’ champion

Amy Schneider’s run inspires us all



Amy Schneider (Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Television)

“When was the last time anybody said ‘wow!’” a friend asked me.

I couldn’t remember the last time anyone I know (including me) had any “Wow!” moments. Until I heard about trans woman and software engineering manager Amy Schneider’s 29-game winning streak on “Jeopardy.”

You wouldn’t think anything could dispel our COVID exhaustion and political divisiveness. Yet, news about a champion on “Jeopardy,” a quiz show that has been on TV since 1964, has broken through our gloom.

In our culture, there are few things that everyone loves. But, “Jeopardy” is beloved by many, from theater geeks to 80-year-old sports nuts. A progressive friend was over the moon when his brother was a “Jeopardy” contestant. A buddy, a hetero (non-Trump) Republican, is a “Jeopardy” fanatic and a gay librarian pal is a “Jeopardy” freak.

Many of us daydream about being on “Jeopardy.” But we know that we wouldn’t have a chance on this legendary quiz show with its deceptively simple format: You give the answer to the (often incredibly hard) clues in the form of a question. You have to have a strategic military commander’s and a world-class athlete’s coordination: so you can press the buzzer to answer the clue.

The game’s categories run the gamut from opera to mountain ranges. Most of us, mere mortals, would be lucky to know even one category in the first round of the game. Let alone in the “Double Jeopardy” round or the “Final Jeopardy” clue. I might jump on clues about Katharine Hepburn movies or M&Ms. But that would be it for me.

It’s exciting to watch a “Jeopardy” contestant become a long-running champion. You marvel at the player’s intelligence, endurance, and nerve. It’s thrilling when the contestant on a winning-streak is part of your community.

Many of us LGBTQ “Jeopardy” fans are thrilled by Schneider’s record-setting winning streak. As I write this, Schneider has won more than $1 million in 29 games of “Jeopardy.” She is the fifth millionaire in “Jeopardy” history, and only the fourth player to reach this milestone in the regular season. She has won more than any other female “Jeopardy” contestant.

Schneider, like so many of us, doesn’t want to be defined by her gender identity or sexuality. Schneider’s life is multi-faceted; she has many interests. Schneider lives with her girlfriend Genevieve. They have a cat named Meep.

Yet, Schneider doesn’t want to hide that she’s trans. On “Jeopardy,” Schneider brilliantly dealt with this dilemma. She didn’t make a big deal about being out. She just wore the trans Pride flag pin.

“It was something that I wanted to get out there and to show my pride in while not making it the focus of what I was doing there,” Schneider told the New York Times. “Because I was just there to answer trivia questions and win money.”

As a cisgender lesbian, I can’t speak to how Schneider’s record-setting “Jeopardy” streak feels to transgender people.

But, as a trans ally, I’m cheering for Schneider. Kudos for her bravery! At a time when many states are passing anti-trans laws, it takes guts to be out on TV and the Internet.

Few things are as mainstream as “Jeopardy.” I bet that many “Jeopardy” viewers who are frightened at the idea of trans people, will become more comfortable with transgender people after watching Schneider on the popular quiz show. Because folks on TV come into our living and bedrooms and we feel as if we know them after watching them for a while.

“Amy looks like everybody else,” my neighbor said when I told her Schneider was trans. “She doesn’t act odd. She’s not strange.”

Transgender people encounter violence and discrimination in everything from housing to health care to employment.

I know Schneider’s “Jeopardy” triumph won’t end transphobia. But her winning streak will go a long way toward jumpstarting a change in hearts and minds.

Kathi Wolfe, a writer and a poet, is a regular contributor to the Blade.

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SCARY: Tucker Carlson now the conscience of GOP

Cruz bows down, kisses ring of Fox host



Tucker Carlson (Screen capture via Fox on YouTube)

The Republican Party has sunk to a new low, hard to do, when a sleazebag like Tucker Carlson is now their conscience. Seeing Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) groveling before him is laughable, disgusting, and frightening all at the same time. 

As reported in Rolling Stone, Cruz said, “We are approaching a solemn anniversary this week. It is an anniversary of a violent terrorist attack on the Capitol where we saw the men and women of law enforcement demonstrate incredible courage, incredible bravery, risk their lives to defend the men and women who serve in this Capitol.” Then “Cruz was lambasted by Tucker Carlson that night, prompting him to hop on Carlson’s show Thursday and beg for forgiveness. “The way I phrased things yesterday, it was sloppy and it was frankly dumb,” Cruz said before Carlson cut him off and said he didn’t believe him. Cruz took it up a notch, stammering through an absurd bit about how he wasn’t talking about the “patriots across the country supporting President Trump,” only those who assaulted police officers, and that he’s always described anyone who assaults a cop as a terrorist.

Carlson has made a career of being a pompous commentator. Interestingly he worked at CNN, PBS, and MSNBC, before finally landing at Fox in 2009. According to his Wikipedia page he went to Trinity College where he earned a bachelor’s degree and Carlson’s Trinity yearbook describes him as a member of the “Dan White Society,” an apparent reference to the American political assassin who murdered San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk. After college, Carlson tried to join the CIA, but his application was denied, after which he decided to pursue a career in journalism with the encouragement of his father, who advised him that “they’ll take anybody.” Reading this clearly raised my opinion of the CIA and based on what we see in some media today I agree with Carlson’s father on his view of journalism. 

When you have a moment of silence in the House of Representatives to honor those who lost their lives on Jan. 6 and only two Republicans show up, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and her father Dick Cheney, the former vice president, one understands the influence Carlson has on the GOP. The rest were afraid of being criticized on-air by him or lambasted by Trump. 

Dick Cheney remarked on the GOP, “It’s not a leadership that resembles any of the folks I knew when I was here for 10 years.” He spoke to ABC News saying, “I’m deeply disappointed we don’t have better leadership in the Republican Party to restore the Constitution.” 

There is a leadership void in the Republican Party today. Their so-called leaders are afraid to say what they think if it differs in any way from Trumpism or Carlson’s view of the world, which requires total fealty to Trump. He found a home on Fox where he can lie with impunity and have millions believe his lies. 

President Biden said, in what many think was the best speech of his presidency so far, these people are “holding a dagger to the neck of democracy.” He went on to say, “For the first time in our history, a president not just lost an election, he tried to prevent the peaceful transfer of power as a violent mob breached the Capitol.” 

Tucker Carlson and his ilk have never bothered to answer a question the president threw at them, which is how they can accept all their down ballot victories, governors, and members of Congress, which occurred on the same ballots, cast by the same people, on the same day, as those for president. Of course, Carlson has no need to make sense, tell the truth, or speak rationally because of his platform on Fox, which doesn’t require that.

My question is whether Carlson is as dumb as he makes himself sound or is he brilliant and this is all a big act? Either way the acolytes that follow Trump don’t seem to care and are bowing down to Carlson’s big audience. It’s as if he can tell any Republican senator or congressperson, or Republican candidate for those jobs, to just ‘bend over and take it’ and they do. All we can do is mourn for the GOP of Lincoln and Eisenhower. Non-Trumpers will have to work hard and speak out if they ever want to resurrect a GOP that can be respected.

Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBTQ rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.

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