Contributed by CAMERA Intern Rachel Wolf:

On Sunday Tel Aviv started it’s renowned Gay Pride Week. There have been several events this week celebrating gay culture including restaurant and club events. There has even been a music video put out to celebrate this week. The video “features a song written by Doron Medli and performed by singer Omer Adam. It was filmed on Tel Aviv coastline, features gay actor, model Eliad Cohen as well as dancers from Arisa, a popular line of gay parties.” Most notable of all the Pride events is the parade which will take place tomorrow, Friday, June 7, 2013. The city has been painted by rainbows and filled with an assortment of characters. This annual festival celebrates the diverse nature of gay culture and Tel Aviv.

While this festival focuses on the celebration of the Israeli gay community, this event simultaneously celebrates the fact that Israel is a democracy. It celebrates the fact that Israel treats each of its citizens with dignity and respect. The week also celebrates that despite being founded as a Jewish state, the Israeli government does not use the Torah’s rejection of homosexuality as an excuse for punishment and wrongful imprisonment. In Israel, gays, lesbians, transexuals and anyone in between are able to live freely and openly as they are. Unfortunately this is not the case in surrounding areas. For example, in Syria there are routine arrests for homosexuality.

Pride Week is a fun, vibrant and lively celebration of freedom and equal rights for everyone. However, we must look past the colorful outfits and glitzy parade and remember the significance of this week, not only for Israelis but for people surrounding them. For Israelis this week further celebrates their democracy, culture and their freedom. For the men and women who live outside of Israel, this parade may serve as a beacon of hope, that one day they may be able to live freely as openly gay, lesbian, transgender or bisexual.

Read more about gay rights in Israel here and student op-eds on the subject here.

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