Celebration, Sorrow and Arrests at Annual Gay Pride March in Jerusalem

“Bears,” Families with young children (including babies with “I love” stickers stuck onto their onesies) and other “experienced native priders” at Jerusalem Pride Parade.

At Jerusalem’s Liberty Bell Park, a nine-acre green space created in 1976 in tribute to the American people, “bears” gathered around a flag of variegated earth tones stamped with a bear paw and distributed fliers that posed the question, “Who are we?”

A pamphlet in Hebrew and English explained that “in male gay culture, a bear is often a larger, hairier man who projects a masculine image.”

Nadav Knossow, 39, a PhD candidate in desert soil microbiology who wrote the text, said the message was necessary because, “otherwise, everyone comes up to me and asks, ‘What’s that flag with the wrong colors?’”

Together with Adam Stovicek, 29, a fellow doctoral student from Ben-Gurion University, and his partner, Doron Rosenthal, also 29, a Shenkar College student of industrial design, they made a friendly pack.

It was Stovicek’s fifth Israeli gay pride parade. He referred to himself as “an experienced native prider.”

Every year at the pride march, there is a significant police presence. There was no difference at this year’s, held Thursday. At least 22 protesters were arrested, among them one carrying a knife — a painful reminder of Shira Banki, a 16-year-old girl who was stabbed to death at the gay pride march in 2015. The assailant, who stabbed three people in all at the parade, was recently released on parole.

The Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz said 22,000 people paraded past Jerusalem’s Great Synagogue on King George V Street and left white flowers at an informal memorial to honor Shira. Continue reading in the Los Angeles Times