Thursday, June 21, 2007

My Scariest Middle East Experience...

I attended the gay pride parade today in Jerusalem. Some people here wondered why I bothered. I went out of respect for many friends and also to show my support for tolerance and universal human rights. I was also curious to see how it would play out. It was a very moving experience - all the more so because I felt like I was risking my life going there. It was definitely the scariest experience I've had in 20 years of working in the the middle east. All was well however, thanks to the 9000 cops there were for the 5000 marchers. It was interesting. Whereas gay parades in big US cities and in Australia are more like celebrations - there was some of that - but there was also the atmosphere of campagning for human rights with people carrying pictures of Gandhi, King, and Mandela. Amnesty International and the Communist Party also got in on the action. It made me think of what the 1960's must have been all about. The police sealed off a very large perimeter, using buses to block the streets. The marchers were surrounded by police in riot gear. There were also plainclothesmen and police all in black on motorcycles. The march passed the historic King David Hotel where Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice have stayed. My biggest fear was that someone planted a bomb somewhere, but it was fine. I recovered with a trip to the American Colony for drinks :-).


Caroline Tully said...

It is good surely, that *this* was the scariest experience - meaning that you mustn't be having very many scary experiences - and that despite the scariness, everyone survived intact.

Suki said...

Good for you for showing your support, especially in an area like the Middle East where there is virtually NONE.

I have a few gay friends and have always been supportive of the community because I just can't understand why people feel the need to control another's emotions. Is Australia fairly tolerant?

Katy (Suki's Mom)