Being a New Immigrant, LGBT and French…

A new group on Facebook aims to make the lives of French-speaking LGBT new immigrants to Israel easier. Francophone LGBT Olim is also a new gateway to reach the French-speaking LGBT community in Israel

LGBTOlimIf you’ve decided to move to Israel and you are LGBT, then Roy Freeman, manager of LGBT Olim, is the best connection for you. Freeman is now opening a sister group to his English-speakers LGBT immigrants, an LGBT-French speaking group for Israeli Olim. “I guess part of the reason for opening this group was the Jewish Agency’s recent decision to redirect their Tel Aviv budget toward French Olim,” Freeman explains. “I am also aware of the huge increase in Aliyah from France due to the rise in anti-Semitic attacks there. Together these things made me realize that there must be LGBT people among all these new immigrants from France. As no one collects statistics on immigrants’ sexuality, it’s impossible to know for sure, but statistically, a proportion of all new Olim must fall under the LGBT umbrella. We hope to build a community of French-speaking LGBT new immigrants just as we have been doing over the last couple of years for English-speaking LGBT new Olim.”

Eric Choukroun, a new gay immigrant from Nice, has helped Freeman put his plan in motion. The two met during one of Eric’s pre-aliyah visits to Israel, when he asked at the Tel Aviv Gay Center about events that were happening for LGBT Olim. The center put him in touch with Roy. “There are a lot of French people who don’t speak English,” Choukroun says, “and it makes it easier for them to connect with each other, and become a support system.”

Other than the language issue, the English and French speaking LGBT Olim groups face more or less the same issues; therefore the plan is to unite the groups in the activities outside the web. “Online, the pages are separate, but we plan to invite the French-speaking olim along to joint events with the English-speakers,” says Freeman. “Last month, the Tel Aviv LGBT English-speakers Group held a pub crawl, visiting a number of LGBT and LGBT-friendly bars around Tel Aviv. A handful of French olim came along to that. Obviously there’s a language barrier for the mono-linguals among us, but conversations were had via smile emoticon.”

The French Olim group plans to strengthen the connection with French LGBT Jews in France “We’re already in touch with Beit Haverim in Paris,” says Roy. “A few of their members will be visiting Tel Aviv for 40 Years of Pride in June and we’re planning to all meet up while they’re here.”