Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore describes decades of queer activism in her new memoir, which is often scarring, startling, and never easy. But Sycamore confronts the problems in her life with real feeling, showing that emotion—if genuine—can often break us out of the corporate-sponsored numbness which so inundates our culture.
The Supreme Court’s decision on voting rights reminds us that racism against Blacks remains far more deeply implanted in America’s economic and political institutions, and in the consciousness of many Americans, than the horrendous homophobia that may now be somewhat receding. Yet it is also a testimony to those in the gay world who refused to be “realistic” when told that gay marriage was unthinkable. We need that same kind of unrealistic thinking to revive the necessary struggle against American racism.
Twenty Years After the Gay March on Washington: Time for a Spiritual Progressive Paradigm to Affirm Homosexuality
With the gay pride and rights marches of yesteryear, the responses from mainstream society to homosexual people marching down city boulevards or the National Mall was either the sound of vitriolic hatred, or a tepid tolerance. Now, a slight majority of Americans favor full marriage equality for same-sex couples, and there is an outside chance that the Supreme Court may declare state bans on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, or at least end same-sex marriage discrimination in California.
But in class all she could see was Jacob, his lithe movements, the panicky heat of his body when she swam beside him and let their legs kick against each other in an ecstasy of splash.
Because of the U.S. history of slavery, assumptions about the sexuality of African American women in the United States differ from those made about European American women. The sexual stereotype of enslaved women as licentious extends far back into history; modern racism extended it to all Black women and also used the myth of Black hypersexuality as a reason to enslave Black people.
An Inconvenient Truth: The Myths of Pinkwashing
by Arthur Slepian
Responses to Arthur Slepian:
The Greater Context of the Pinkwashing Debate
by Katherine Franke
Revealing the Truth Behind the Rainbow: Seattle’s Anti-Pinkwashing Success
by Wendy Elisheva Somerson
Pinkwashing, Brainwashing, and Queer-Palestinian solidarity
by Uri Horesh
Israeli Occupation and LGBT Rights: Inextricably Intertwined
by Richard Silverstein
Related articles published previously in Tikkun:
Boycotting Equality Forum’s Israeli Sponsorship
by Rebecca Alpert and Katherine Franke
U.S. Gay Rights Activists: Stop Pinkwashing Palestinian Suffering! by Richard Silverstein
As a queer anti-Occupation Jew living in Seattle, I was part of the coalition that worked to get the Seattle LGBT commission to cancel the pinkwashing event, “Rainbow Generations: Building New LGBTQ Pride & Inclusion in Israel,” sponsored by Arthur Slepian’s organization, A Wider Bridge. In response to Slepian’s article, “An Inconvenient Truth: The Myths of Pinkwashing,” I want to clarify why we worked to cancel the event and counter his misinformation about pinkwashing.
Improving the lot of gays in Israel without addressing the suffering of Palestinians under Occupation is a palliative measure. The oppression facing Israeli minorities, whether they be LGBT or Israeli Palestinians derives from the same root: the original sin of racism and dispossession.
It is utterly impossible to truly be simultaneously queer and Zionist. The following has been said thousands of times, but it deserves to be repeated until it sinks in: a “Jewish and democratic state” is a horrific, racist contradiction in terms, especially considering upwards of twenty percent of Israel’s population who are not Jewish. By the same token, as long as the LGBT community in Israel struggles only for the rights of the LGBT community, showing near total disregard for other groups that are oppressed—arguably more oppressed than we—our struggle loses a great deal of its legitimacy.
While I can’t speak for all who charge Israel with pinkwashing, I think it’s fair to say that the aim of the pinkwashing critique is not LGBT Israelis, but rather Israeli state policy that uses members of our community and/or our interests to burnish its own international reputation. In this respect, the concern is how LGBT rights get taken up by the state as a marketing tool and are served up to an international audience as part of a national rebranding project that necessarily implicates geo-political, religious, and international relations that far exceed gay rights.
The fundamental problem with anti-pinkwashing rhetoric is that it proceeds from imagined motives to imagined outcomes, projecting invented intentions onto Israeli and American Jewish and LGBT leaders.
In “The Death of Christianity,” Lawrence Swaim argues that the doctrine of substitutionary atonement “makes God out to be a vengeful, homicidal deity who can be satisfied only with the death of his son.” He eloquently elaborates how the doctrine of blood atonement is a product of Roman imperial power, injustice, and terrorism, and presents the cross as a sign of conquest that has shaped Christian identity and ecclesiastical might throughout the centuries. Urging us to embrace a counterstory of Jesus’s life, Swaim goes on to suggest that we replace the symbol of the cross with the image of “a woman holding a child.”
Webs of blinding irony are being spun around Private First Class Manning, obscuring the military’s methodical denial of Manning’s constitutionally guaranteed right to a fair trial.
Palestinian gays and lesbians have urged the gay community in the United States to become more aware of how we have become an unwitting partner in Israel’s efforts to improve its much-criticized human rights record—especially with respect to the Palestinians. Through a policy that some have called “pinkwashing,” Israel has self-consciously sought to rebrand itself as less religious, less militaristic and less hostile, and in so doing wants to deflect attention from the International Court of Justice and UN Human Rights Council’s findings that many of Israel’s policies with respect to the Palestinians violate international law.
In addition to being Jewish, I am a member of a definable gender minority that has been conspicuous throughout history. I am a eunuch. Angels in the Torah are the Lord’s trusted messengers; the word angel comes from the Greek word angelos (messenger). In a similar way, eunuchs of biblical times were the emperors’ messengers and guardians. In gender-segregated cultures, our in-betweenness allows us to be able to transgress both worlds.