On Friday, some 30 Jews carrying rainbow pride flags emblazoned with the Star of David and signs saying #LetMyPeopleMarch argued for their right to participate in the DC Dyke March, one of the events during Washington’s Pride Weekend.
As the group stood in McPherson Square, making their case to a march organizer, also Jewish, intersectionality came to an abrupt halt.
“You don’t get to decide how I feel. You don’t get to decide how I experience my Judaism,” said Steph Black. “If I can’t come as my fully authentic Jewish self with the Jewish pride flag, than you are deliberately trying to exclude me. Why are you the one who gets to define [this flag]?”
“You and I have a different relationship to this flag,” organizer Jill Raney told Black. “I was one of the people who designed this event to hold the variety of needs of as many people as possible. I’m not saying you can’t march [with this flag]. I’m saying it’s inconsiderate to Palestinians.”
In the end, the group was let in and joined others gathering for the Dyke March. But by the time the march started, the group had to leave to celebrate Shabbat.
LGBTQ Jews last weekend said that both identities are equally important to them. The standoff at McPherson Square showed how each side felt the other was making them choose between the two.
“I was forced out of one closet I won’t be forced back into another,” Black said.
“Sometimes it feels like we had to come out twice in our Jewish communities,” Dyke March organizers Yael Horowitz and Rae Gaines wrote in the Blade before the march, “once as Dykes (or really over and over again) and again as self-loving Anti-Zionists.”
“Being Jewish and queer means I get to show up fully as I am and acknowledge the holiness within myself and others,” Andy Anderson, who identifies as non-binary and pansexual said on Saturday at the Pride Parade. “Because I am Jewish, I stand up against hatred. Because I am queer and Jewish, I stand up for other queers. I get to combine all of these parts into one and recognize they are all parts of Hashem.”
Kaleb Chudacoff, who identifies as non-binary and uses he/they pronouns, said, “I think that [being queer and Jewish] are two identities that overlap a lot. They’re both, especially in the U.S., outside the mainstream. So for me, being queer does not just mean being LGBT. You can like a member of the same sex and not identify as queer. It’s a political identity.”
Mixed messages contributed to the tension over the Star of David ban. Horowitz told The Washington Post that the event would ban the Jewish pride flag along with all “nationalist symbols,” including those representing “nations that have specific oppressive tendencies,” including the U.S. flag. The Palestinian flag was welcome.
This brought condemnation from organizations including the ADL, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington, Jewish LGBTQ groups Keshet and A Wider Bridge, the Jewish Democratic Council of America and the pro-Israel Zioness.
When the announcement came that there would be a Dyke March in Washington for the fir
st time in 12 years, Blake Flayton, a queer activist, was excited. Then came the word that the Star of David was banned from rainbow pride flags.
“It was anti-Semitic and discriminatory and it was not intersectional, and I think one of the most important parts of Pride is to be as intersectional as possible,” Flayton said. “My main point for participating in [the Dyke March] is that I think it’s really hypocritical and anti-Semitic to [criticize] nationalism at Pride and only talk about the state of Israel,” he said.
The mood was lighter on Saturday at the Capital Pride Parade. Members of the Jewish LGBTQ group GLOE marched the 1½-mile route from Dupont Circle with pride flags painted on their cheeks, and holdings signs with slogans like “F*G Sameach” and “Shabbat Shalomosexual.”
Nice Jewish Boys chair Ben Rosenbaum marched with a Jewish pride flag tied around his neck like a cape.
“When I say Shabbat, you Shalom. Ready?” he called out as he passed paper kippot to parade watchers.
“I’ve never been to any Pride Parade of any variety,” said Ariel Weinstein, the program manager of GLOE. “I think it’s great that everyone gets the chance to march together, be proud of themselves and be proud of the people around them.”
LGBTQ activist AJ Campbell was struck by the differences between the Dyke March and Pride Parade.
“Today, they cheered when they saw the Jewish pride flag. Compared to yesterday, it was a contrast.”