This might be the single hardest post I’ve ever written. I understand that it may come with consequences, many of which I really don’t want. Probably some I haven’t even thought of.
But sometimes something weighs on your conscience long enough and heavy enough that the time comes when purging is absolutely necessary.
My Embarrassing Confession
I have a confession, a really embarrassing confession.
About twenty years ago a friend of mine and I protested the gay pride parade in Jerusalem. We were peaceful. And we were not loud. We did have signs that were designed to get a rise out of people, but for the most part our presence was inconsequential for the overall event.
So why am I so embarrassed?
I’m embarrassed because this is very much not who I am. Protesting that parade goes against just about everything I stand for.
And even though the likelihood that someone would ever find out that I was there, and even though my impact was minuscule at best, I’d rather people I care about hear this from me rather than find out another way. And there are more than a few of those among my friends and family who would be understandably and justifiably quite upset at what I did that day.
Me, Twenty Years Later
Where do I stand today?
I support every human being’s right to be whoever they are. I am vehemently opposed to any government interfering with the intimate lives of its citizens. And I wish health and happiness upon all good people.
And I think those who wish to shower the world with angry and hateful viewpoints are doing nothing to make the world a better place for all of us. I do support their right to free speech. But I also very much support my right to ignore everything they have to say.
I have no interest in being angry. I have no interest in spending my time in opposition to anything. I’d rather live my life fighting for the things that are important to me. Living for something, rather than living against something.
The Parade… in Jerusalem
I do believe that even the younger me intuitively knew I was doing something wrong that day. Even then I would explain that I had no issue with homosexuality or the parade in general. I just thought it was out of place in Jerusalem. Especially considering certain behaviors that happen at the parade.
And to some extent, I still feel the slightest hint of that. I mean, whenever I see someone litter in Jerusalem I want to grab them and shake them. If you really understood what Jerusalem was–its significance and history–you would shudder before letting a piece of trash sully its floors. So, if someone parades through that same place wearing assless leather pants, I can’t help but feeling something similar. It’s just not respectful to what Jerusalem is.
Nevertheless, I actually think the littering is so much worse. If I don’t want to see something, I don’t have to be there. But wanton littering damages the essence of the city. It makes it grotesque, all year round, and there is no escape. And it comes with a level of disregard for the nature of Jerusalem I simply cannot understand.
A Parade of Emotions
A once-a-year parade, filled mostly with people just feeling camaraderie with others, standing together in peace and solidarity, is a beautiful thing. And that’s so, even if it contains elements some might find objectionable.
But believe me, the aforementioned pants offend me worlds less than someone in Jerusalem who throws a rock at a car on Shabbat. And these are people who are supposedly upholding the sanctity of the city!
If you don’t like the parade, you don’t need to go. In fact, you’re better off not being there. For everyone’s sake. The world doesn’t benefit from your anger and intolerance.
Angry and Intolerant
But I was angry and intolerant. I fell into a trap of the culture I was immersed in. And at the time, I thought I was standing on the right side of history. I thought what I was doing was positive and noble. And that any of the negative feelings the experience produced in me were far outweighed by the good I was attempting to accomplish.
But I was seriously wrong. And I don’t know how to undo what I did. I don’t know if my presence did any damage. Does there exist someone in this world who is less proud of who they are because I stood in front of them and said I didn’t like what they were doing?
It could be my actions that day were inconsequential and forgotten. But if I did even an iota of damage, that will always be a part of me, even without knowing. And I will never forget.
It should be noted: Even way back when, the parade organizers won that little battle. I was told by people that my friend and I were featured in photos on their website. However, our signs were obstructed, so it looked like we were parade participants. A happy couple coming to join in the celebration.
And good on them! Kudos. We were bested, and it was done comically and tastefully.
The Blame is Mine Alone
Listen, when all the smoke clears, I know I was young and thus prone to dumb mistakes. And of course I can blame what I did on the indoctrination of those around me. But ultimately the responsibility for my actions, past or present, lies solely on me. I refuse to pass any blame on to anyone else.
But the worst part for me is that I don’t know who to apologize to exactly. I can grab a friend, but can they really forgive me on behalf of an entire community? And I wouldn’t be brazen enough to even do that. Frankly, I’m not sure what I would do if were them in that moment. What if I really did hurt someone? Do I even deserve forgiveness?
But I’m trying to do my part. I’m trying to be a better version of myself. And that’s not possible without acknowledging the many, many mistakes I’ve made, and working hard to never be that person again.
So for whatever it’s worth, I apologize to the gay community, to my friends and family, and to the world at large. I’m not that person anymore. I hope we can move forward together. As friends.
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