When Liel, a young Israeli woman of Ethiopian descent, came out to her mother as bisexual, her mother was perplexed. The concept of same-sex love was completely foreign within the Israeli Ethiopian community.
“She didn’t understand what I said, because we don’t even have a word for ‘LGBT,'” Liel said.
Despite the dislocation Liel felt in that moment, she was nevertheless not alone, she would soon learn. She joined a group of LGBT Ethiopian Israelis, KALA ( Kehila Lahatavit Ethiopit ), which formed online in 2014. The group has not officially incorporated yet, but now boasts about 70 members and has been meeting in person frequently.
Liel spoke in several U.S. cities along with two other members of the LGBT Ethiopian Israeli community, Sarah, one of KALA’s co-founders, and Yaniv. Because the three are not completely out in their community, they could not give their full names. They spoke in Chicago twice, on the South and North sides. Their visit was sponsored by the organization A Wider Bridge, which fosters relations between the LGBT community and Israel.
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