This letter is from someone who identifies himself/herself as a Palestinian “queer” in Irvine, California is running on the Facebook page of Students for Justice in Palestine at UC Irvine. It is in response to the participation of a gay group in the recent pro-Israel I-Fest week of events at UC Irvine. It is well worth a read because it shows just how twisted the thinking is when it comes to the topic of gay rights in Israel vs gay rights in the surrounding Arab lands (non-existent). Not only does it go into the ridiculous accusation of “pink washing” against Israel, but it indicts the West as well.
“Transnational approaches to “gay rights” and the way we talk about “queer” bodies abroad are often in many ways connected to American exceptionalism, interventionalism, and imperialism, as well as white supremacy and global capitalism. Much like white feminism—which serves as a tool of mobilization of American arms and weaponry to save “oppressed” women worldwide—we must question how the “gay rights” movement may be used (and is being used) as a thinly veiled façade to hide and even to sanction human rights violations around the globe. It is crucial that we are critical of the ways in which “gay rights” are used as imperatives to assert brutal military force on other countries.”
Where to start in responding to this commentary?
I could start by pointing out to this young person that I grew up in a time when gays were forced to live “in the closet” because if they came out with their sexuality, they would be tormented no end. In fact, the epithets that were used against them was “queer” and “fag”. Ironically, while the latter is condemned, the former has now been embraced by gays. Go figure.
While hardly an activist for gay rights (I still think marriage should be between a man and a woman), I am proud of the advances our society has made in respecting the rights, dignity and humanity of homosexuals. I have progressed greatly in my own personal views as well. I don’t regard homosexuality as a choice. Whether it is genetic, environmental, or a combination of the two, I am not sure, and to me it doesn’t matter.
As to Israel, if that is the only country in the region that respects the rights of gays, that is to their credit, just as it is to their credit that they are the only democracy in the region. As to the West in general and the US in particular, I hardly think our military or diplomatic history has anything to do with protecting gays or women for that matter. Nor do I see it as some sort of excuse for military adventurism or imperialistic motives.
This young person is either cynically twisting the issue as are the pro-Palestinian forces in general, or he/she is sadly misinformed and is a product of our educational system in universities. Of course I would invite this person to take up residence in the Palestinian Territory, Gaza, a “liberated Palestine”, or any Middle Eastern country other than Israel, live openly as a gay, and test the limits of tolerance.
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