Why the closet still beck­ons

An Is­raeli gay ac­tivist, here this week, says life for ho­mo­sex­u­als is great in Tel Aviv. But in the UK com­mu­nity, ac­cept­abil­ity is lim­ited

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY ALEX KAS­RIEL

MR GAY In­ter­na­tional, Nathan Shaked, was nei­ther openly gay nor in­volved in the Jewish com­mu­nity when he stud­ied in Bri­tain 14 years ago. But the Is­raeli imag­ines that the sit­u­a­tion for Jewish ho­mo­sex­u­als here is sim­i­lar to that at home — fine in the cap­i­tal, more prob­lem­atic out­side.

The 38-year-old for­mer lawyer — whose UK visit un­der the aus­pices of the Zion­ist Fed­er­a­tion has at­tracted con­tro­versy — told the JC on Tues­day: “If you com­pare Lon­don and Tel Aviv, gen­er­ally they are open-minded. There are places to go, like gay bars, gay shops; there are even gay TV shows. If you com­pare the two cities, it’s al­most the same.

“But the fur­ther you get from Tel Aviv, the sit­u­a­tion be­comes dif­fer­ent. In Tel Aviv, guys can walk down Shenkin Street hand-in-hand; but if you go out­side Tel Aviv, the gay peo­ple stay be­hind walls.”

Mr Shaked adds that al­though the Is­raeli Army is not anti-gay, it can be a very lonely place for ho­mo­sex­u­als, given that “young guys who want to be ma­cho think be­ing gay is not be­ing a man”.

How­ever, the tanned and ath­letic busi­ness­man — who owns a chain of eight fit­ness clubs in Is­rael and did not “come out” un­til he was in his early 30s — be­lieves that things are chang­ing.

“It’s a long process and it may take maybe 10 or 15 years when we get to a sit­u­a­tion where two gay peo­ple will be able to ex­press them­selves in Kiryat Sh­mona, for ex­am­ple.

“We see more and more gay guys wear­ing yarmulkas,” he ob­serves. “The ul­tra-Ortho­dox may have a prob­lem with gays, but many things go against the re­li­gion. Many peo­ple don’t keep Shab­bat or eat pork, but rab­bis still ac­cept them.”

PHOTO: VICKY AL­HAD­EFF

Nathan Shaked: “Many peo­ple don’t keep Shab­bat or eat pork, but rab­bis still ac­cept them”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.