Tablet Magazine

24 June 2024
18 Sivan 5784

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Grappling With Pride

Many of the places that once felt welcoming for LGBTQ+ Jews are less comfortable this year

I’ll never forget the exhilaration of my first Pride festival, six years ago in New York City. Covered in glitter, surrounded by close friends, and listening to Hayley Kiyoko’s “Expectations” album on the PATH train, I felt an immediate sense of belonging. At 17, though not yet out—I told my friends I was “just a fierce ally”—I was still welcomed unconditionally. The love and music that filled the air were a balm for the years of internal struggle I had endured. Each smile, rainbow flag, and song felt like a warm embrace of a part of myself I had long hidden and yearned to express freely. Before that first Pride, I lived quietly, cloaked in fear and secrecy, always cautious to conceal my true identity. As a young gay person, accepting who you are is an ongoing journey of growth and evolution that never truly stops. Growing up, I always felt different but could not pinpoint why, sensing an unspoken truth that my friends could not quite grasp. I had always wanted to be myself proudly, and dancing in the streets of Manhattan with thousands who shared my journey was the first time I truly felt empowered and not alone. Those Pride events mixed excitement and fear, but mostly gave me a unique sense of belonging, making me comfortable enough to eventually share my identity with others a few years later. However, my feelings on Pride have drastically changed in recent months, following the events of Oct. 7. Places that once felt open and welcoming no longer feel that way.

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