Posted on June 23, 2015 by Thomas Collins
“Where are you from?”
That’s a question we’ve heard a lot since arriving in Israel three days ago. Our answer usually elicits a smile, sometimes a follow up question, or, rarely, a look of confusion.
But when we were asked that question Monday night in Jerusalem’s only gay bar―the Video Pub―the questioner, who happened to be the bartender, immediately called his boss to let him know we were in town. Immediately afterward, shots of Arak were poured―on the house―for a toast welcoming us to Israel and the city of Jerusalem.
The bartender told us that he and his friends knew about the concert at the Jerusalem International YMCA the next day and that they were hoping to attend. As the evening progressed, more locals came in to see us: word of our arrival was spreading fast!
We spent the evening chatting, drinking, and at times singing. The size of the bar was indicative of the state of the gay scene in Jerusalem, which is to say, quite small. We talked about Pride celebrations and found out that in Jerusalem, Pride is still much more of an organized protest than a celebration. With a fairly conservative population, there is much work still needed to support gay rights and tolerance in Jerusalem.
Our conversations were interesting, engaging, and not all entirely serious: bar staff spent most of the night trying to get us to sing. At one point they put on some Whitney; let’s just say that they succeeded in their efforts.
The focus of this tour has been one of outreach, which we also do back home in schools and community centers. We do this to help support local LGBT organizations―the money that is raised from our outreach performances is donated to local lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender organizations―and to further spread our message of equality, acceptance, and love.
We can’t change the world with a single concert, but my experience at Video Pub showed just how far the ripple effects of what we do can go.