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Tel Aviv shooting: Then and now

As an Israeli queer person, Maayan Amiezer knows what it's like to be face hatred. But nothing prepared her for the shooting at the Tel Aviv Gay Center last year.

On 1 August 2009 I was checking the Israeli news. It appeared to be just like any other weekend. 

I wish it was. 

The headlines are still flashing in front of my eyes until this day: 'Two killed in a shooting at a Tel Aviv Gay Center'. 

I was thrown back to 2005 when young Adam was stabbed by the crazed ultraorthodox man, during the Jerusalem Pride march. Being a member of the Jerusalem (small) gay community I knew what it felt like to face hate. I faced it every day. I chose to live my life out side of the Tel Aviv pink safe bubble. 

I never thought such a horrifying hate crime can happen in Tel Aviv, the “gay” capital of Israel. 

For me, coming from a small coastal town up north, Tel Aviv was a beacon of hope. It was a place you could be yourself, no masks, no walls and no lies. This was a place to be surrounded by people, just as different as you are. Visiting Tel Aviv was the only time where you did not have to fear anyone or anything. 

Tel Aviv was thought to be the only safe place for gays. Thought to be. Not anymore. 

That gunman did not only take the lives of two souls. He did not just violate the young bodies of kids who used to be dancers and now cannot even walk. He took something from the community. That gunman stole stability and safety from those who needed it most, young kids, in safe of an inner truth.

Many of the victims were unexpectedly “outed” to their friends and family. Some of them were laying in their hospital bed with no family members even coming to visit once. 

How do you pick up the pieces? How do you convince young souls, who suffered such hatred, that they are safe? 

Following the attack, thousands gathered reclaiming the streets. The political leadership held a rally bringing GLBSGDQ rights to the public domain. The president himself spoke against the hate crime to ensure it never happens again. The community was embraced by the people of Israel. 

Support did not only come from the political leadership. It came from all over the world. Demonstrations were held to condemn homophobia across the globe from Europe to the US. Support even came from Sydney. A fundraiser was held, an initiative of the Community Action Against Homophobia (CAAH) Sydney. 

The centre has since renewed its activity. Teenagers are still attending the IGY (Israeli Gay Youth) support groups. Some say now even more then ever.  

Maayan (Mikey) Amiezer is an Israeli gay activist now residing in Sydney. She will be chairing a discussion about the hate crime and about gay life in Israel as part of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras' 'Queer Thinking' event on Friday 26 February.

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