Gay Orthodox activist Uria Ben Brit had a fruitful shift Thursday night at The Meeting Place in Jerusalem, as he walked with a rainbow flag, wearing a yarmulke, down Zion Square.
“When you’re wearing a yarmulke and carrying a rainbow flag on the street of the most central square in Jerusalem, you better expect comments,” Uria later wrote.
The Meeting Place is a Jerusalem-based initiation that transforms the public space into a place of LGBT visibility and dialogue. Uria Ben Brit, who came out publicly on Israeli gay website Mako in 2016 to inspire other orthodox closeted men, says that while creating an LGBT visibility, he answered respectfully to anyone who turned to him with respect. Those who were condescending or insulting, he says, got no response.
“Several teenagers came to ask me questions, some were tactless and rude, but there were also those who asked legitimate questions with an extreme enthusiasm-their curiosity was in the sky, it was very clear,” Uria says. “Fortunately, I was also surrounded by people who knew how to separate themselves from me when they invaded my space too much and touched the flag with too much enthusiasm.”
Uria also met a number of tourists who were interested in the meaning of the LGBT flag combined with the Star of David and he explained that it was the Jewish flag of pride. “There was a couple who asked for directions to Jerusalem’s only gay pub, ‘The Video’ including tourists and two religious guys I didn’t even know,” he says. “Many others just stared at me in shock and some of them were asking random questions that left me giggling after they were gone.”
“And as always, quite a few people came to give me the high five, or gave me the thumbs up from afar for doing this, which is always nice.”
The Meeting Place promotes much needed constructive engagement between residents of Jerusalem, where people work through challenging and often painful issues, and build bridges of communication for a shared pluralistic society. To donate, or to learn more about the project, visit awiderbridge.org/impact.