Following up on the concept of collective liberation from last week, and because we’re now into Pride month, I want to talk about Palestine as a queer liberation issue.

Since its creation in 1948, Israeli state propaganda has hailed its geo-political position in the Middle East as an oasis of democratic human rights from within the “belly of the beast” or whatever racist trope of the day is being used against Arab communities. 

As we start Pride month, Israeli soldiers have begun to fly the pride flag in an attempt to ‘pinkwash’ Israeli war crimes by using the Palestinian queer community as a weapon to justify genocide. 

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard Western white talking heads tell LGBTQ folks that they should never go to Palestine because they’ll be thrown off a rooftop.  

First of all, this is untrue. There are thriving queer communities across the Middle East. Do they face persecution? Of course. Just like the queer communities of the United States, Canada, Australia and Europe, queer liberation is still in process and I have yet to see a nation state that can claim to have eradicated homophobia. The contexts and struggles may vary, but the ‘white saviourism’ of Pride is hypocritical at best, and terribly racist and deadly at worst. 

The alQaws organization for Sexual and Gender Diversity in Palestinian Society writes, “Queer liberation is fundamentally tied to the dreams of Palestinian liberation: self-determination, dignity, and the end of all systems of oppression. In a settler colonial context, no clear line can be drawn where colonialism ends and patriarchal violence begins. The fight against patriarchy and sexual oppression is intertwined with the fight against settler-colonialism and capitalism.”

As I explored last week how Jewish safety and belonging can only come alongside Palestinian safety and belonging, it is clear that queer identities will also be fuller when Palestinian queers live in freedom and autonomy, unshackled from Israeli apartheid and protected from ethnic cleansing and genocide of their people and culture.  

I am reminded of Palestinian poet Marwan Makhoul, who writes, 

“In order for me to write poetry that isn’t political
I must listen to the birds
and in order to hear the birds
the warplanes must be silent.”

In order for Palestinian queerness to flourish, the warplanes must stop. And as allies of Pride, we must make sure our liberation includes Palestine. 

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Hannah Redekop

CPT Communications Associate

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