Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tel Aviv: Not so far away, after all

By Casey Halcro, Youth Programs Coordinator
Spectrum LGBT Center

August 4, 2009

Tucked away in my quiet little suburban Marin County cocoon, not but a stone’s throw away from San Francisco (known for being the Gay Mecca of the U.S.), the Sunday morning news hit me hard. Glancing over the headlines, I noticed that something had happened in Tel Aviv. That’s at least three universes away, right? It didn’t take long for my sleepy Sunday morning brain to string it all together: “Two killed as gunman mows down youths in Tel Aviv gay center.”

Three universes away my people were killed! This was a jolting reminder that I do what I do at Spectrum because there is always more work to be done. Tel Aviv may feel like three universes away, but on Sunday it may as well have been in my back yard.

I remember, just before Valentine’s Day in 2008, reading that a 15-year-old gay boy named Lawrence King was shot in the head while sitting in his school’s computer lab in Oxnard, California. Oxnard, California is just a short 6.5 hours away from me – not three universes.

In October 2002, 17-year-old Gwen Araujo was killed by four men after they discovered her transgender identity. This happened in Newark, California – about an hour away from where I live now.

In October 1998, just one year before my high school graduation, I read about Matthew Shepard, who was beaten and left for dead because he was gay. At the time, I was living in Montana. The horrific crime against Matthew Shepard happened in Wyoming, a state bordering mine…not three universes away.

On New Year’s Eve of 1993, 21-year-old Brandon Teena was raped and murdered in Lincoln, Nebraska. His killers, enraged when they discovered Brandon’s transgender identity, also shot and killed two other people who were trying to protect him.

And now, we mourn the deaths of two more young people, ages 24 and 17; and hope the best for eleven others who were wounded in the most brutal attack on LGBT people in Israel’s history.

Three universes away may as well be our own back yard.

From here in California, Spectrum wants our brothers and sisters in Tel Aviv to know that we stand with them in solidarity. We will NOT stop fighting for equal rights, social justice, and inclusive acceptance of LGBT people; the ones here in our own backyard, the ones three universes away, and all of the ones in between. We continue to work hard on a daily basis to educate, dispel myths, empower acceptance, and promote understanding for all LGBT people. Our own LGBT youth groups will continue to meet, create safe space for ourselves and others, and educate the community surrounding us.

We extend our condolences to the staff and participants of The Aguda (Hebrew for ‘gathering’) Community Center in Tel Aviv, and to the families of those who were killed and wounded.

Contact Casey Halcro at casey@spectrumlgbtcenter.org, or (415) 457-1115 x 213.

The Aguda is an LGBT community center like many in places all over the United States and the world. Nearly 30 years old, The Aguda is housed in the basement of an apartment complex. More information about The Aguda can be found at http://glbt.org.il/ (website is in Hebrew), and the English translation of their website can be viewed using this link.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Candlelight Vigil/Memorial for LGBT Youth Murdered in Tel Aviv

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, August 3, 2009


WHAT: A Candlelight Vigil/Memorial for the LGBT youth murdered and wounded at a LGBT teen center support group meeting on Saturday in Tel Aviv, Israel.

WHERE: FROM: Congregation Sha’ar Zahav (290 Dolores St @ 16th St), SF
TO: San Francisco LGBT Center (1800 Market St @ Octavia St), SF

WHEN: TONIGHT, Monday August 3, 2009 @ 5:30pm

San Francisco, CA… On Saturday, a masked assailant dressed in black from head to toe opened fire on an LGBT teen center’s support group meeting in Tel Aviv, Israel, killing 2 members of the group: 16 year old, Liz Trubeshi, and 26 year old, Nir Katz, the support group counselor, and wounding 10 others. The gunman managed to find the secret location of the support group’s meetings; many of the kids were not yet out to their parents before the shooting. On Sunday, thousands in Tel Aviv protested the senseless murders, and crowds gathered in other Israeli cities as well.

An ad hoc group of San Francisco-based Jewish and gay organizations and individuals is organizing a candlelight vigil/memorial for tonight, Monday night, to memorialize the young Israeli victims. The safety of LGBT youth is of utmost concern; this could happen at any center anywhere in the world. Organizers are calling for LGBT Centers around the country/world to also hold vigils on Monday.

People will gather at the LGBT synagogue, Congregation Sha’ar Zahav (290 Dolores St @ 16th St) at 6:00pm and march down Dolores Street and then down Market Street to the San Francisco LGBT Center at 1800 Market Street @ Octavia St.

Schedule & Speakers
5:30pm Gather at Congregation Sha’ar Zahav (290 Dolores St @ 16th St, San Francisco)
6:00pm March from Sha’ar Zahav to SF LGBT Center (1800 Market Street @ Octavia St)
6:30-7:00pm Speakers & Candlelight Vigil

SPEAKERS (subject to change):
1. Rabbi Camille Angel (Congregation Sha’ar Zahav)
2. Sup. Bevan Dufty (Member of SF Board of Supervisors)
3. Ruby Cymrot-Wu (Bay Area Outreach Coordinator, Jewish Mosaic)
4. Jessica Trubowitch (Dir of Intergroup Relations, Jewish Community Relations Council)
5. SF LGBT Center speaker
6. LYRIC speaker (Lavender Youth Recreation & Info Center; queer youth resource center)

The vigil was organized by Rabbi Camille Angel (Congregation Sha’ar Zahav); Supervisor Bevan Dufty; Martin Tannenbaum (LGBT Alliance); organizer Lisa Geduldig; The Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco; SF LGBT Center; Congregation Sha'ar Zahav; and Kol Tzedek: A Bay Area Coalition of Jewish Organizations for Justice and LGBT Rights.