Mandy Michaeli, co-Executive Director at IGY, will join the panel on Empowering LGBTQ Youth and Students at the 40 Years of Pride Conference in Tel Aviv during Pride Week. Michaeli just came back from a series of talks in the United States where, according to her, American audiences were most interested to hear about her adolescence and army experience as an LGBT person in Israel, as well as the variety of identities at IGY and how they collide with Israeli society.
“The most burning issue at the moment is the complexity of LGBT youth in the Israeli education system,” Michaeli says. “This is why IGY’s work is divided into sectors. We conduct open conversations for youth in schools, similar to the concept of the Gay Straight Alliance, and we also work with the Ministry of Education and other public personalities and authorities.”
IGY’s latest campaign called on older Israeli LGBT people to post Facebook photos of themselves at 15 years old, and to describe what they were like at that age. The campaign became very popular. It sends out a huge message of hope, when you read about the struggles of people in their youth and see how they turned out. Dozens of community leaders and celebrities took part in the campaign, such as Ivri Lider, Gal Uchovsky, Miki Buganim, Uriel Yekutiel, Aviad Kissos, Leon Shnid, Kay Long, Freeda Hecht and more.
“There’s a very wide range of activities at IGY, from groups for youth at risk or with suicidal tendencies or prostitution, to activism groups of potential leaders who initiate activities to change reality,” Michaeli says. “In the work of IGY we build an organization that is based on the values of democracy and feminism. We give youth who don’t have a safe space a place to express themselves, as well as encourage them to conduct a discussion on the values of the LGBT community and Israeli society.”
Mandy Michaeli, 33, currently lives in Moshav Udim with her partner. She came out at 18 during her army service, and has been a part of IGY for the last seven years. “I’m sharing the Executive Director title with Ran Leabel, since it’s IGY’s quest to work together: men, women and everything in between, in order to work toward promoting our interests,” she says.
“The youth is our future community, and this is how we form a community that recognizes its variety of hues, a creative, solid community, with more initiative and strength,” Michaeli says. “We feel that what was already formed at IGY will continue to grow and sizzle in the public arena. ”