March 25, 2011

Gay City News on the protest @ LGBT Center

In its coverage of the protest against the Center's ejection of Siegebuaster, Gay City News covers "pinkwashing" -- painting occupation with a gay-friendly brush -- and the Center's de facto exclusion of Palestinian queers.
150 Picket Center's Nixing of Anti-Israel Fundraiser

Protesters hoist the Palestinian National Authority's flag at a March 5 protest outside the LGBT Community Center in Manhattan. (GAY CITY NEWS)
...The crowd of roughly 150 who turned out for the early evening protest voiced angry criticism of the Center for its decision 11 days before to bar a fundraising party by Siege Busters. The event would have provided money for a new flotilla to challenge the Israeli navy’s blockade of the Gaza Strip.
“The idea that the Center’s core mission does not include concern for queer Palestinians is a very odd definition of a core mission,” said Naomi Brussel, speaking for Siege Busters. Glennda Testone, the Center’s executive director, said in a February 22 release that controversy over the party had begun “to distract from our core mission.”
For Testone and the Center, however, the toughest challenge could come from critics such as Rami Al-Bakri, a 22-year-old Palestinian who has been in the US for the past four years studying (he declined to say where).

Pointing to daily humiliations he and his family endure at home, he said, “Then I come to New York and experience the same thing at the Center. It’s something I expect from the Israeli state, but not from the Center.”

Asked about the treatment of queers by Palestinian leaders and whether pro-Palestinian activists in the US can credibly claim to be speaking for LGBT people in Gaza and the West Bank, Al-Bakri, who is affiliatged with alQaws for Sexual & Gender Diversity in Palestinian Society, responded, “Queers and women have always been part of the struggle for Palestinian rights. As a Palestinian identified as queer, I’ve always been part of the movement since I was a kid.”

“Am I giving up on my society to be gay? No,” he said, emphasizing his determination to stay with the cause in his homeland. “In Palestine, I fight for my right to be queer in the Palestinian movement. Here, I fight for my right to be Palestinian in the queer movement.”

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