Once again, I find myself struggling to negotiate my Judaism with other parts of my identity. Last year and the year before, it was because of the Women’s March. This year it’s the D.C. Dyke March. At once I am both too Jewish for queer spaces and too queer for many Jewish spaces. As a Jew, I have felt this with my feminism, my activism, and my politics. I question if I will ever find a space where I comfortably fit in.
For those who haven’t heard, though they have yet to release an official public statement, organizers of D.C. Dyke March (including IfNotNow, D.C. Area Transmasculine Society, and No Justice No Pride) have made clear (though not on any public platform) that certain Jewish symbols would not be allowed at their march. This not only includes Israeli flags, but Stars of David positioned in the center of any flag, as that would too closely resemble the flag of Israel. Other flags and paraphernalia deemed “nationalistic” are not allowed, such as rainbow-colored U.S. flags. On the contrary, Palestinian flags are fine.
To be clear, I am completely in support of Palestinian flags being flown proudly at a gay pride march. But why can’t I have my Star of David, too? I’m not even talking about an Israeli flag, but simply a centered Jewish star on a rainbow flag. It seems this sort of double standard simply exists to target and alienate vulnerable, queer Jews like myself who want to show up as their full selves. The Dyke March is already being held on a Friday, when many observant Jews are unable to attend due to Shabbat — these needless rules only further drive the point home that queer Jews are not valued in this intersectional, “inclusive” movement.
But I will not hang my Judaism at the door when I enter your queer space. And I will not make myself less Jewish to accommodate anti-Semites.
Sadly, this isn’t the first time something like this has happened. In 2017, three Jewish women were kicked out of the Chicago Dyke March for carrying rainbow flags with Stars of David on them. This has led many queer Jewish women to no longer feel comfortable in these spaces, and unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to matter to those continuing to enforce these rules.
In a comment in the Facebook event for the D.C. march, an IfNotNow organizer told me that I am required to choose symbols that “aren’t about Israel or Zionism.” But what the organizers get wrong is that the Star of David is not a Zionist symbol. Many Zionist causes will use Jewish symbols because they’re Jewish, but that doesn’t mean they have anything to do with Zionism or current Israeli policies. As Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg explains on Twitter, “It’s a symbol of Judaism, of peoplehood, of Diaspora and oppression and devastation and rising from the ashes, of the points to connect to God and of protection. It is a symbol of Jews and Judaism, and does not begin and end its symbolism on a flag.” To tell me I can’t rock a Star of David because it’s a Zionist symbol isn’t just incorrect, it’s actively anti-Semitic.
In these kinds of spaces, I’m asked to change fundamental aspects about who I am as a Jew in order to accommodate others. The irony of that coming from a Dyke march is not lost. Am I, a queer, feminist, leftist, Zionist Jew allowed to attend this march as my full self? Or do the organizers insist on essentially putting me back into a closet? I’m devastated that these are questions I still have to ask.
Header image via Getty