Several people came up to me as I stood in front of the Roxie Theater on 16th Street with my Israeli flag and asked for clarification--who were we? And why were we there? And who were the other people?
You have to love San Francisco. Here is what was going on...
The Roxie was showing Eyes Wide Open,a film about an Orthodox man in Jerusalem, struggling with his sexuality. This was part of Out In Israel, a month-long celebration of things LGBT, Jewish and Israeli, organized by the Israeli Consulate in San Francisco.
Now, if this had happened a month earlier, the Westboro Baptists might still have been in town, and they could have come and protested the gayness, but instead they had moved on, and the film was being protested by QUIT. That's Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism. No, I did not make that up.
QUIT was there because they hate the State of Israel. They were there with pink banners, complaints about 'pinkwashing', and very creepy signs. My friends and I were there because they were there. We were showing support for films about closeted gay men in Jerusalem by holding Israeli flags, rainbow flags, and signs that were much more delightful and amusing than those held by QUIT.
I was struck, as always, by the passion and intensity of the people I find myself across the lines from at these events. The jumbled tangle of anti-Semitism and vague left-political platitudes, turned into something so irrational, heartless and strange that I can barely make out what these folks think they're doing.
The question I wanted to ask, and didn't get a chance to, was this: "Is there another country on earth, no matter what its human rights record, that you would protest gay films from?"
The answer, of course, is 'no', as one of my fellow flag-wavers said briskly. But it does highlight the unique place Israel holds in the minds of her haters--the only nation on earth with no right to even make films about its LGBT citizens, reviled by these 'activists' far more than nations that, say, just KILL their LGBT citizens.
Strange world. Queer, even, one might say.