Chicago Dyke March organizers, yes that is what it is called, asked at least three individuals carrying Jewish Pride flags to leave the annual LGBT event over the weekend.
According to the Windy City Times, an LGBT publication in Chicago, this year’s event drew more than 1,500 people to the city’s Little Village neighborhood. On Twitter, the Chicago Dyke March describes itself as an “anti-racist, anti-violent, volunteer-led, grassroots mobilization and celebration of dyke, queer, bisexual, and transgender resilience.” The social media description also includes “#BlackTransLivesMatter.”
But the “anti-racist” label apparently doesn’t extend to Jewish individuals — or at least not “Zionist” Jewish people.
Laurel Grauer, who leads the Jewish LGBT organization Wider Bridge, said that she and two others who were holding rainbow flags with the star of David embroidered in the center, were told by march organizers to leave because the flags “made people feel unsafe.” Specifically, Grauer said they were told that the march was “anti-Zionist” and “pro-Palestinian.”
“They were telling me to leave because my flag was a trigger to people that they found offensive,” Grauer told the Windy City Times. Grauer said that never before in “over a decade” of marching in the Dyke March had she been “harassed” by anyone while carrying the Jewish Pride flag.
“People asked me if I was a Zionist and I said, ‘Yes, I do care about the state of Israel but I also believe in a two-state solution and an independent Palestine,’” Grauer said, referring to the decades-long territorial controversy between Jews and Palestinians.
Grauer added that she isn’t quite sure how a group can pride itself on inclusion when what it is doing is, in fact, excluding others.
“People are saying ‘You can be gay but not in this way,’” Grauer said. “We do not feel welcomed. We do not feel included.”
The identities of the other two individuals who were told to leave the march were not clear. However, the Windy City Times spoke with another individual, Eleanor Shoshany-Anderson, an Iranian Jew, who said she, too, got the boot.
“The Dyke March is supposed to be intersectional. I don’t know why my identity is excluded from that,” Shoshany-Anderson said.
Some supporters said that people carrying the American flag were also confronted, while those carrying flags from other countries (besides Israel) were left alone, according to the Windy City Times.
The Chicago Dyke March responded to the news in a statement, which read:
Sadly, our celebration of dyke, queer and trans solidarity was partly overshadowed by our decision to ask three individuals carrying Israeli flags superimposed on rainbow flags to leave the rally. This decision was made after they repeatedly expressed support for Zionism during conversations with Dyke March Collective members.
The rest of the statement went on to acknowledge that the decision to exclude the Jewish participants from the march was politically motivated.
“We have since learned that at least one of these individuals is a regional director for A Wider Bridge, an organization with connections to the Israeli state and right-wing pro-Israel interest groups. A Wider Bridge has been protested for provocative actions at other LGBTQ events and has been condemned by numerous organizations for using Israel’s supposed ‘LGBTQ tolerance’ to pinkwash the violent occupation of Palestine,” the statement continued.
The incident came just weeks after Pride Month controversies in at least two other U.S. cities.
“The stripes were not chosen for skin color — they were chosen to reflect the spectrum of color in nature,” Charlie Beal, a friend of the late Gilbert Baker, who designed the original rainbow flag in the 1970s, told NBC News. And Twitter user Terrence Brady weighed in on the Philadelphia Pride flag controversy, saying, “It includes 2 additional colors – black and tan. no white. yes it’s racist. The rainbow flag is to be all inclusive of everyone.”
In St. Louis, LGBT activists flipped out over the St. Louis Cardinals’ annual Christian Family Day event. As one spokesman for the Cardinals pointed out, however, the major league baseball team hosts events for various faiths and races.
“As an organization, the Cardinals have always been committed to bringing like-minded groups together to share in the unifying experience of Cardinals baseball. We are an inclusive organization with a social responsibility to be welcoming to all types of people and organizations. We continue to try and reach out to every part of our community, and have hosted a variety of themed events like Christian Day, Jewish Community Night, Catholic Family Night, Bosnian Heritage Night, Fiesta Cardenales, and many others,” Cardinals spokesman Ron Watermon said.
The MLB franchise also announced that it will host its first ever Pride Night later this season, which will “bring members of the LGBT community together to enjoy Cardinals baseball.”