The nation of Lithuania was due to hold its first gay pride parade in a few days. Yesterday Lithuanian judges banned the event, citing "concern for public safety".
It's calming to see other countries dealing with issues that we have somewhat resolved. In Israel, three pride parades are held each year. The one in Jerusalem is always the focus of conflict, drawing murder threats from the ultraorthodox community, yet was never canceled. The Tel-Aviv parade is simply enormous. This year it is scheduled for June 11th. Its theme is "social change".
Please do not deduce that Israeli gays live in a shangri-la painted by Tom of Finland. Gay bashing is rampant and last year a massacre of gay youths took place at a Tel-Aviv community center.
Yes, the mass media placed several gay men and even a transsexual woman inside the "big-brother" house and changed the public's perspective a bit, but there's still work to be done. At the moment there is a single openly gay member of Knesset in office (Nitzan Horowitz of the Meretz party). Note that according to statistics, there should be about eleven more closeted gay individuals in the house.
But the problem isn't only a gay one. Israel's heterosexuals aren't free either. I can't think of a single member of Knesset who seems sexually liberated, and there should ideally be 120 of them. Our society is becoming more and more repressed, and we don't even notice it, confusing commercial sexual media content and tawdry fashion trends in girls attire for honest liberalism.
Sexual liberation should come from the bed of the layman. Thus I feel great pride in my own few actions of the recent times. Two weeks ago, I supported the right to gender ambiguity by narrating an experimental poetry event in full drag:
But this is softcore. For a year now Itka and I have supported alternative lifestyles by having an open relationship. It's a worthwhile challenge, but a challenge indeed, as we described in an article published a few weeks into the experiment.
You won't even believe how much criticism we recieved for living lovingly yet outside of typical monogamy. Thankfully, potential partners are not always so critical. After recovering from the initial shock and clarifying that they themselves could never maintain such relationship, they usually open up to the adventure.
Itka is an advanced activist in the field of sexual politics, currently running an internet campaign promoting more freedom of choice in matters of bodily hair and always on the battlefield for women's rights. Some of the campaigns are not so humorous and her activities have been known to cost her friendships. Not everyone understands the broader values and humanism for which she's fighting.
Now comes an opportunity to challenge another form of social oppression: clothes! Photographer Spencer Tunick, who paves the cityscapes of the world with naked bodies, is arriving to Tel-Aviv this summer and plans to shoot a naked scene in Tel-Aviv. Itka got both of us registered to appear among the multitudes and found herself interviewed to a local newspaper about nudism and art.
It was interesting to read the online comments beneath the short news item. Most of them were attacks on "leftists" who are destroying this country's moral core.
Leftists? If anything, I'd expect to be attacked for not being leftist enough. Gaza is under siege, The West Bank is a tightly-controlled, futureless territory. Human rights are of no concern to the state, freedom of speech is a diminishing commodity, and we indulge in erotic activism? Who gives a toss about our sexual emancipation when people are rotting in our prisons without due trial?
Then again, I see the connection. Our sexuality is political. It's no accident that the Israeli LGBT community is overwhelmingly supportive of the Palestinian cause, even though Palestinian society is deeply homophobic. The experience of freeing ourselves strongly enhances our capacity to care for the freedom of others.
Lithuania's judges are being reasonable. They seek to maintain conservative order. They know that nothing threatens the hyrarchical power structure more than a community of free, confident human beings. Our sexuality is power. Liberalism is a doorway to mutual support and political progress, especially in a land where religious zealots are constantly gaining more and more control. Breaking ground on issues of sexual liberty also advances this coutry's hard faught feminist struggle and the dignity of every person here. Let's punch bigotry and racism, intolerance and prejudice in one blow, and let's make it a sexy blow.