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Yom Ha’atzmaut, LGBTQ Pride, and Our Shared Journeys to Freedom

A Yom Ha’atzmaut message from Tyler Gregory , Executive Director of A Wider Bridge.

Over the past week, we mourned the six million on Yom HaShoah, we commemorated fallen Israeli soldiers and victims of terror on Yom HaZikaron, and today, we celebrate 70 years of Israeli independence on Yom Ha’atzmaut.

These modern holidays retell three recurring experiences of the Jewish people: remembering and overcoming darkness, building resistance, and celebrating freedom. And it is the very same set of experiences that we as LGBTQ people recognize each year.

The LGBTQ story, like the Jewish story, is also stained with tragedy. On Yom Hashoah, we remember the estimated 100,000 gay men persecuted during the Holocaust. On World AIDS Day, we remember a generation, outcast by society, that carried far too many losses. And on Transgender Day of Remembrance, we remember lives cut short by transphobic violence.

And like the Jews, LGBTQ people resist, and persist. Just as Yom Hazikaron commemorates those who perished in the fight for Jewish self-determination, the LGBTQ community remembers our own struggle for freedom. In the face of adversity, we organize, we demonstrate, and we fought and continue to fight for our rights and our lives at the ballot box, at the courts, and on the streets.

And just as Israel celebrates seventy years of Jewish people having a place in which they are free, we as an LGBTQ community in a growing number of places around the world celebrate Pride — pride in who we are, and who we love.

At A Wider Bridge, we have our work cut out for us. Engaging LGBTQ leaders and communities with Israel isn’t always easy. And homophobia, transphobia, anti-Semitism, and anti-Zionism all remain alive and well.  Yet when LGBTQ people discover the depth of the experiences they share with the Jewish community and with Israel through our work, we can and do succeed each day in changing hearts, opening minds, and bringing people together. There is so much more that unites us than divides us. We need each other.

Here’s to the next seventy years!

Tyler Gregory, Executive Director