Many gay Jews in Mexico are still being forced to marry women and live a lie because the community lives in a rather traditional country. The organization ‘Guimel’ is trying to change the reality for them from within the synagogues and Jewish schools.
“I had a very clear desire – to be a proud Jew and a proud gay in Mexico,” says Eli Nassau, who was born in Mexico City and two years ago founded the organization ‘Guimel’.
About two months ago, ‘Guimel’ produced a new video clip as a campaign to raise awareness for Jewish LGBT people living in darkness. The video became viral with over 50k views and a lot of articles were written about it throughout the web.
“We’re trying to create a sense of openness in the Mexican Jewish community for LGBT issues through meetings in schools, in sports clubs, youth movements and even in the synagogues, and create a dialogue of openness and honesty within the Jewish community,” explains Nassau.
What is the condition of LGBT Jews in Mexico?
“It’s not easy being a minority, and even worse to be a minority within a minority. The majority of the Jewish community in Mexico is Orthodox or Modern Orthodox (knitted kippah or black kippah). There are about 40,000 Mexican Jews , and according to statistics approximately 3,000 to 4,000 of them belong to the LGBT community. Most of them are still in the closet, some are already married and have children, and some of them have moved to another country because they felt unwelcome in the Jewish community. ”
“If someone comes out of the closet, he is often being sent to the rabbi, for conversion or to ‘heal’ his homosexuality. The consequences cause a lot more pain and suffering. More and more people now understand today that being gay is not a choice. The most important thing these days is to encourage the Jewish community to let us be who we want to be, without discrimination. We would like to create a stronger LGBT community so that we can live our lives fully, happily and openly. ”
Why did you decide to make a video about it?
“Though from day to day there’s more awareness of the LGBT Jewish community in Mexico, we are still far away from the day we’ll be received with open arms. I felt that we needed to ‘come out’ so that the Jewish community will know who we are, that we are an integral part of the community.
“We also wanted to say through the video that there are lots of gay people who are not willing to give up the love of their lives just because of their religion. Nowadays there are lots of broken families, and the pain is great when someone comes out. A lot of young people are being thrown out of their homes or being forced to get married, only to paint a ‘normative’ picture. They live a lie, suffer all their lives and cause themselves and those around them a lot of pain. ”
What were you trying to achieve with the video?
“We want people to talk about the subject of LGBT openly, and express their support. We want to create a stronger Jewish community by a recognition of all of its levels and faces. And most importantly, we would like people to understand that love is stronger than everything, and that family is always family.”