If you are gay in the Palestinian Territory...your only refuge is Israel....
And yet, there are many gay organizations in North America (Queers for Palestine, or Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism) who hate Israel....and yet would never be allowed to protest, even meet, in the Palestinian territories...
His friends call him "The Bride."
This night, he was standing behind a storefront art-gallery window in a bloodied wedding dress. His face was ghostly, and he was clutching a large rock in his right hand.
A small crowd had gathered on a south Tel Aviv street as The Bride opened his mouth and began to sing — in Arabic. To be more accurate, The Bride was lip-synching the words of a political anthem by one of Lebanon's best-known divas.
"Let the jails' door be destroyed," he sang as bewildered Israelis on dates wandered by. "Let this madness be defeated, and let anyone who betrays us become stones."
The show was a public coming out for "The Bride of Palestine," a 26-year-old performance artist who's one of a new generation of gay Arab-Israelis struggling to define themselves, their sexuality and their political identity.
For most like The Bride, being gay makes them pariahs in their conservative Arab communities. Being proud Palestinians puts them at odds with the dominant Jewish-Israeli society. So they try to take a stand against bigotry in both societies without being firmly rooted in either one.
"My fight," said The Bride, who lives at home with his willfully ignorant Muslim parents, "is through my art."
In an effort to carve out a space for themselves, Palestinian drag queens gather every few months at a club in the heart of Tel Aviv to take part in underground shows. These parties offer a rare forum for them to explore complicated and convoluted ideas about sexuality, politics, nationalism, militancy and religion.
They're forging their identities at the center of what some consider an occupying power. The Palestinian nationalists among them recognize the irony in the fact that Israel has become their sanctuary.
"I didn't choose this place; it's the place that I found I could be myself in," said M. a 24-year-old Arab-Israeli woman with short black hair who's performed at the club. "That's my only refuge."
In some ways, gays and lesbians such as M. are lucky: While homosexuality isn't illegal in the Palestinian Authority, as it is in most surrounding Arab nations, gays and lesbians have virtually no place to express their sexuality in the West Bank or Gaza Strip. Several gay Palestinians have been arrested, beaten by Palestinian Authority intelligence and forced to flee, The Bride and other gay activists said.