Mardi Gras rocks

March 2, 2014 by J-Wire Staff
Read on for article

Over 100 paraders joined Sydney’s GLBT Dayenu to celebrate the Mardi Gras.


Big Night Out

Big Night Out   Pix:  Tomer Hasson

Jo Cohen, president of Dayenu, told J-Wire: “A sea of red and white gay and lesbian Jews danced and lit up Oxford Street to

The float

The float

Whitney Houston’s “I will always love you”.

The huge Magen David with a heart inside led the way depicting our theme of “Love AHAVA, love each other”. The atmosphere and reception from the crowd was electrifying.”

Cohen said that the organisation and dedication of Dayenu members had paid off once again, thanking  “all our wonderful team for helping to create a wonderful night to remember.”



39 Responses to “Mardi Gras rocks”
  1. Gil Solomon says:

    For Michael Barnett to suggest that for heterosexuals like Paul and Gil that “perhaps it’s their religion they should be ashamed of” is appalling.
    That comment has ended this dialogue for me once and for all.

    • Kindly refer to my subsequent clarification where I stated it was “religious community”, not “religion” that I meant. Further, it’s not Paul or Gil who I was refering to who should be ashamed of anything, but the people who you believe should remain invisible, who should be ashamed of the attitudes people like you perpetuate.

      If it takes a misinterpreted statement like that from me to shut you up, then I congratulate myself. 🙂

  2. Otto Waldmann says:

    Let’s reduce the entire discussion to the following non-conflictual paradigms:

    proposition “a” :Judaism does not deny the existence of homosexuality.
    proposition “b” : one may not deny the Jewishness of the gay Jew.
    Colloray of propositions “a” and “b” : Judaism is bound to work WITH the said paradigms.

  3. Liat Nagar says:

    Why the emphasis on religion in discussion of Jews participating with a Jewish float and banner in the Gay Mardi Gras? There might well have been Jews involved who were secular. You don’t have to be religious to be Jewish. Although the conundrum for Jews is the fact that we are inextricably tied to the Torah in regard to our origins, whereas Catholics, Muslims and others are not defined by their religion in the same way. Just a bit of interesting discussion (well, I hope it’s interesting to others), to get rid of dangerous assumptions.
    I think it grand that an energetic, attractive, fun-loving group of Jewish people, as shown in the photo, should be seen as just that in a non-Jewish event. To restrict displays of any type of Jewishness to Jewish events only is a great shame, and doesn’t do us any good at all. We need people out there, who are largely ignorant of Jews, to see us, know us, admire us, in all our variety, as a way of stemming the gross, damaging anti-Semitism that flourishes so well through ignorance and fear of difference. It is not good to hide away as if we’re practising some sort of secret cult, and keep on educating only those already in the know.
    I am not keen on overt public displays of one’s sexuality, gay, heterosexual, or bi-sexual, but understand at this stage in the development of gay rights why this Mardi Gras is thought necessary. It will be a fine thing when it is no longer necessary due to healthy assimilation of people of all sexual orientations in an equitable environment.

  4. Otto Waldmann says:

    Must raise the following points, indispensible to a discussion on the topic from Jewish perspectives.
    First, i used the plural in “perspective” quite intentionally, whereas I happen to contrdaict myself and hold that Jewish in terms of a homogenous set of beliefs must be considered at all times.
    So, where is the plural valid !!??
    I find it in the manner in which an informed mind sees the values of Judaism.
    Accordingly, the pride of the Jew is an intergral part of the identity as such. To what extent, then, does one apply with exclusive relevance CERTAIN percepts found in Judaism to the detriment of others.
    True, in some relevant paragraphs, social behaviour is “ordained” by Judaism in quite strict ways, if one wishes to extricate the “paragraph” from the general/universally valid tenets.
    Tachles and to the current point.
    Gil is right, Paul is right and I am also right by saying that Jewish identity goes well beyond “sexual preferences”. Private life is essential in defining belonging to a certain ethical construct. Most importantly, though, is the consideration of the ENTIRE behavioural edifice.
    I am satisfied that what can be defined by some as transgression can, according to existent tenets within the same edifice, be considered as CONSISTENT with the universality of the complex/complete edifice, but, most importantly, with the very function of redress by the same tenets which hold valid the edifice. I agree that the term “redress” is my logical security valve.
    To this extent, I, for one may NOT exclude a certain certified group as being Jewish from a fold which, quite demonstrably in its entirety contains ONLY members quite imperfect, if the same complex rules/tenets need apply.
    Show me a perfect Jew and I shall reveal a perfect fake !!!
    Par ricochet, I am not advocating for imperfections !!!!
    Par double ricochet, the Jewish float at the Mardi Gras was a picture to behold. Who could possibly reject the beautiful, so very Jewish, expressions of joy !!??

  5. Paul Winter says:

    Methinks commentators are doing a wonderful job of missing Gil’s point: if you are a homosexual (or any variant other than heterosexual), be happy, live and let live, what you do unto others (& vice versa) is your absolute right and your business only. But why, at a secular event bring your religion into it?

    Yes, I’m aware that the non-hetero community wants to make the point that non-straight behaviour can be found in all segments of the community and so police, military, etc., join the march. Are they telling us anything we don’t know?

    But why a Jewish floa? Do Jewish non-straighters do anything different to non-Jewish non-straighters? Is there a point in marching as Jews other than to tell fellow Jews that there are some who are proud to mock our traditional prohibition on homosexuality?

    While a person may be a homosexual, tolerance for non-straight behaviour cannot be got on the basis of Jewish experience during the Shoah. Homosexual prisoners in concentration camps were not listed for extermination, nor were they treated as sadistically, fed as poorly or worked to death. So please refrain from generalising Jewish suffering to anyone who, in tolerant Australia, feels hard done by.

    • “Do Jewish non-straighters do anything different to non-Jewish non-straighters?”

      Aside from having to hear many straight Jews tell them to be invisible, probably not.

      • Paul Winter says:

        One’s sexuality concerns only the individual and their partner. I don’t go around celebrating my heterosexuality or my marriage of 47 years or my achievements or shortcomings. Live and let live, show respect for the sensitivities of others. Do not stand up and say love me and love my homosexuality; the first is your human right and you have my love for my fellow (wo)man, but the second, loving your deviations from the norm, you will never have, nor for that matter do you deserve it. The deviations have my understanding, my compassion and my very great sorrow that so many fine human beings have failed to attain full maturity which involves loving those of the opposite sex and the desire to bring forth the fruit of their love.

  6. Bobby Basrah says:

    Zak Dee says:
    Here is my Ma Nishtana 4 questions to Gil Solomon:
    1. Do left handed or flat footed Jews nauseate you?
    No. Because the Torah does not label them as “to’eivah”

    2. Do Jews who do not keep Kosher or Shabat etc nauseate you?
    Only if they will march in parades celebrating Chilul Shabbat or “Chazir fressing”

    3. If your son or daughter or other family member were gay or lesbian (openly) would they too nauseate you?
    If they did it openly – probably.

    4. Why exactly do fellow Jews who are gay and lesbian nauseate you?
    Only those who publicly advertise their sexual perversions.
    I would be just as ‘nauseated” by ‘straights’ parading in am “Adultery” parade.

  7. Gil Solomon says:

    I can see a lot of misinterpretation of what I was referring to and this will hopefully be my last post on this topic,trying to answer everyone’s issues with me. I HOPE YOU ALL READ THIS CAREFULLY.

    I have no problem with the gay community being represented at Jewish functions as part of a community event. A Dayenu table at a fund raiser for Israel for example would be a welcome thing.

    However, the Sydney Mardi Gras is not a Jewish community event.
    It is a general event for the public at large requiring no religious affiliation to be displayed. As such, to me it is not necessary to display that you are Jews.

    Day in day out in the local media there is something political concerning Israel or Jews and for me I want to read something positive going on for once and a Mardi Gras with a Jewish float is low on the scale of importance.

    Anyone is free to find love from whatever source and if you are gay and have a loving partner then so be it. For one of you to say: “according to you, if I march in the parade, then I better not be jewish?” is clearly and utterly absurd. I never said that and nor did I tell anyone to hide their “Jewishness”. Anyone who knows me would realise this to be untrue.

    Another said that as a Jew I must know what it means to be picked on. It is one thing to be picked on as a Jew and another to be picked on as gay. To me they are totally different issues the only thing in common here is “Picked on”.

    Another used the word “nauseate” to refer to something I supposedly said about an individual. I clearly did not. What I said was: “it nauseates me to think that you lot seem to think the Jewish community as a whole supports your blatant display of your sexual orientation.” I DID NOT say I was nauseated with an individual. And to this same person who asked if I had a son or daughter that was gay or lesbian would I be nauseated too, you are taking your licence to basically say anything you like here to extreme levels. I would give any son or daughter who was gay or lesbian the same love and respect I would give any other son or daughter who was not. This person (I think his name was Zak) who wrote that gave some other points that to me were nauseating in the extreme. Additionally, if the Emmanuel Shule and others support you then well and good. I agree with them supporting you as fellow Jews. That is the right and proper thing to do by Jews for Jews.

    My point is that if it’s not a Jewish event, there is no need for a Jewish float so don’t expect the Jewish community as a whole to be thrilled about one clearly designated Jewish float in a sea of floats. The floats should be about how far the Gay and Lesbian communities have come over the decades. It has nothing to do if you’re Jewish or not.

    Finally, I don’t take part in the gay community as such, just individuals and I do wish the Jewish gay community well. However, I for one don’t need to see a Jewish float at a non denominational event and be expected to say, yes that’s of great importance to the Jewish community worldwide.

    To those who see the need to express their Jewishness at the Mardi Gras then so be it. There is nothing more I can say. Just don’t put words into my mouth that I didn’t say.

    • Zak says:

      To deny what you originally posted on March 2 (see below) is incredible. I suggest you re-read what you yourself wrote and posted and then re-read my 3 responses to you.

      • Gil Solomon says:

        I don’t deny anything.
        Maybe a poor choice of wording.
        I’ve read all your responses.

    • A simple solution Gil. Next time you want to watch the Mardi Gras parade on TV, record it and then you can skip over the Jewish bits if it bothers you to see them there. I’m sure a friend can make a an edited copy of it for you without the Jewish bits. You could also ask them to take out the Catholic bits and the Anglican bits (and any other religious bits) too if you don’t want to see how other religious communities wish to represent their pride.

      And if you don’t want to watch the Mardi Gras parade, why the heck does this matter enough for you to have taken a stance on it at all?

    • Danny says:

      Gil – I think there is something else you are missing about Dayenu’s participation in the Parade –

      Dayenu’s message is double – to the gay community that there are jewish and gay people, and to the Jewish community that gays are still part of the jewish world.

      All in all – the fact you even contemplate about this means the goal was reached. As you know, Judaism is not something that you switch off because there is a gay parade in Sydney – its the opposite – it symbolizes the diversity of the gay population in Sydney and of the Jewish population.

      This for itself is remarkable.

      • Gil Solomon says:


        In no way am I missing the point that: “gays are still part of the jewish world”. Where did I ever say anything to the contrary?

        I clearly stated above that: “I have no problem with the gay community being represented at Jewish functions as part of a community event. A Dayenu table at a fund raiser for Israel for example would be a welcome thing.” You appear to have selective reading, if after reading that you still feel the need to remind me that gays are part of the Jewish world!
        This conversation is becoming insane!

        Also Paul Winter in his post above went to great lengths to say, like me, that we both don’t see the need for Jewish gays to identify themselves as Jewish to the general population at a non Jewish event.
        Case closed.

        • “we both don’t see the need for Jewish gays to identify themselves as Jewish to the general population at a non Jewish event.”

          Absolutely! You are perfectly entitled to have this point of view. Where would we be if everyone agreed on everything?

          However while you fail to see why some people want to march in Mardi Gras under a Jewish banner, others understand the clear need to do this.

          There more positive role models there are for same-sex attracted and gender-diverse youth in the community, the greater they will see that they can grow up to be honest about who they are, and live meaningful and happy lives, as part of their community.

          One day they will be able to celebrate their marriage to the person of their choice, recognised under Australian law, in front of their friends and family, and perhaps even their religious community and be celebrated and loved and treated as equal. They will also be able to raise a family and these children will be loved and raised alongside the children of their peers.

          Gay and lesbian people are normal people, the same as everyone else, and there should be no reason for them to hide any aspect of their life or their personality.

          However when heterosexual Jews like Paul and Gil tell them as they should not be public because they are Jewish, perhaps it’s their religion they should be ashamed of, not their sexuality.

          • Paul Winter says:

            It is true that non-heterosexual youth should feel comfortable about their preferences, but that has nothing to do with Jews marching as Jews rather than homosexuals/other-gendered. When I marched with teachers I didn’t march as a Jewish teacher, but as a member of that profession.

            Your point about non-straight Jews being ashamed of their religion is grossly offensive. I am proud of my Judaism even if I am not religious. The moral, social, ethical lessons of my religion form the basis of Western civilisation. And it is that civilisation that allows you to march and flaunt your sexuality. As a Jew, the commandments state that homosexuality is an abomination which is punishable by death, as it is in Iran. Homosexual Jews should be proud that Judaism has softened and shows respect for all human beings even those who show their contempt for it by openly violating the concept underpinning that biblical prohibition.

            Live and let live, show others the respect that you so vocally proclaim is your due. Do not try to coerce straight people like me to respect your practises or to stand silently while you clamour for a relationship such as mine with my wife, a relationship that has produced children and from those grandchildren. Mature people like my wife and myself were role models for our children, something that two people of the same sex cannot ever be. And that is why it is politically correct, but socially destructive to allow homosexuals to be parents.

            Most non-straight people I have met were neurotics and I do feel for them. It is best to let those people adjust to what they are and to accept them. But it is wrong to glorify behaviour that deviates from the norm and to influence some confused young person that homosexuality is glorious, exciting, rebellious, something extraordinary and special.

            Homosexuals should not ruin lives as they are trying to do by introducing other-gendered attractiveness courses in infant – yes INFANT – schools, when children are impressionable and vulnerable. There is a subversive agenda there that is more than just about equal rights.

            So just keep quiet, do your thing in private and show the same respect for other as they show you in our tolerant society.

          • Perhaps “religious community” was what I meant, not “religion”.

  8. ben Gershon says:

    Ever since the first group of Dayenu went to the Mardi-Gra .the intolerant have carped

    it is not worth the time to answer them


  9. Alex Ryvchin says:

    Dear Gil

    If members of the Jewish community wish to participate in the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, that is their right. If they wish to do so while openly identifying as Jews, that too is their right. Your comment that “[their] blatant displays of sexual orientation” should “remain behind closed doors” is an attack on their human dignity. It was not so long ago that Jews were being told that their ‘blatant displays’ of religious and national identity should ‘remain behind closed doors’. As neither you nor those you criticise act in any representative capacity, you and they are free to express yourselves as you wish. Australia as a nation has committed itself to mutual respect for the human dignity of all members of the community, despite any strongly held differences; recognition that disagreement is possible in ways that do not vilify other persons or their views; and avoidance of any public or private conduct that incites hatred, ridicule or contempt of another person or class of persons on the ground of their sexual orientation or gender identity. These are values that benefit all of us.”

    – Alex Ryvchin

  10. Gil Solomon says:

    My point was and you can all misinterpret it all you like is that I accept all Jews as part of Am Israel. The only issue I have is that why, with all the prejudice in the world do you have the need to participate in the even as a strictly “Jewish” float. Why bring Judaism into a public parade which by and large was meant to be a show of gay pride period, not “Jewish” gay pride?

    This Otto, is what I mean by Jewish dimension.

    I was not out to offfend any gay person only stressing the point that you don’t have to bring your religion into it and give your fellow Jews publicity they don’t necessarily need to see in a public parade.

    • Gil,

      The people who marched under the Jewish banner in Mardi Gras have no shame in declaring their religious identity or their sexual orientation or gender identity.

      People *don’t have to* do anything, just like you *don’t have to* post a comment on this thread.

      But if people want to march in Mardi Gras, proudly as openly supportive of same-sex attracted and gender-diverse people, under a Jewish banner, then they are entitled to and free to do it. You may not approve, but then I suspect there are many other things you don’t approve of either.

      Equally, you don’t have to participate with them in the parade, or watch the telecast on TV, but plenty others are supportive and will participate, watch, see some role models and hopefully live a more meaningful and happy life.


    • Joanne Cohen says:


      As the proud president of this Jewish GLBTI group, I can only feel saddened by your abusive and damaging comments. We as a community practise love, honour, respect for everything in our lives including religion. We are proud Jewish people with strong beliefs in every aspect of our Jewish heritage. It is obviously something you don’t understand and may never will. We didn’t choose to use Judaism as a vehicle to celebrate our sexuality, it is simply what we are.
      Maybe it is a lack of education on your part and I can only encourage you to find some valuable material that will broaden your perspective.

      Kind regards.

    • Danny says:

      Gil – as you know, I was born a jew, I will die a jew – but according to you, if I march the parade, then I better not be jewish? jews can do ANYTHING and still considered jewish.

      We are fully aware how much more comfortable it is for you that we gay-jews hide in the closet in jewish events, how convenient it is for you to be intolerant, but the fact is that we are jewish and gay and we exist and we are allowed to show our preference in public – preference of religion and preference of sexuality.

      Dayenu’s message is double – to the gay community that there are jewish and gay people, and to the jewish community that we are still part of the jewish world.

      This is exactly what the Parade is aimed for – bring this into discussion – after all, there is absolutely no reason why we need to hide (all our lives) only because its convenient to you.


  11. I commented earlier on Gil Solomon offensive comment. Yet, I see no comment.
    Was my comment more offensive because I am a holocaust survivor & gay. Are J-Wire selective in publishing. What is your criteria????

  12. David Wright says:

    Maybe you should Gil Solomon join another group, as you sound like a very sad sad lady.

  13. Mike Brown says:

    Gil, while I freely support your right to be a close-minded wanker in your own home, behind closed doors, do you really have to shove it down everyone’s throats? I mean maybe it’s not ‘PC’, but I don’t need to know about your unreconstructed attitudes.

    I couldn’t care less what people like you do, but I am offended that you give your bigotry a jewish dimension.

  14. Otto Waldmann says:

    Gil, by the way of Jewish pride, what do you really mean by “Jewish dimension” !!!???

  15. Zak Dee says:

    There was a Catholic float as well as a float from the Metropolitan Church. Sadly, for too long Jewish gays and lesbians have had difficulties reconciling themselves with the community that we want to still be a part of because of narrow minded bigoted people like yourself. It is exactly because of nasty people like you that we parade with pride to let others know that it’s okay to be gay and still belong proudly to the Jewish community.

    • Gil You as a Jewish person should know what it feels like to be picked on .

      We at Dayenu are proud of our sexuality and unfortunately people like you do not want to believe that there are people within the Jewish community that are seen to be different. I was one of the founder members of Dayenu and we started it hoping that we could educate the Jewish and the broader community that we do exist and that we are proud of our roots and that they are important to us. Unfortunately people like you exist within the community which is very sad

      May you never have to feel that your own kind do not accept you within the community. You should hang your head in shame

  16. Gil Solomon says:

    I don’t see a “Sydney Catholic GLBT Group” float (or any other denomination for that matter) so why do Jews have to overtly see the need to show to the world that they are both gay and Jewish?

    The Jewish world has enough problems to contend with and I, being politically incorrect, categorically state I couldn’t care less what you people do behind closed doors but why do you see the need to hit us in the face that you’re a bunch of Jews. Go join some other float, as it nauseates me to think that you lot seem to think the Jewish community as a whole supports your blatant display of your sexual orientation.

    I repeat, I couldn’t care less what you people do, but I am offended by the fact that you give your sexual preference a Jewish dimension.

    • Zak Dee says:

      1. There was a Catholic float immediately following after the Jewish float in addition to a float from the Metropolitan Church which followed the Catholic float.
      2. For too long Jewish gays and lesbians have felt compelled to either leave the community because of views held by people like yourself and it nauseates me to think that in this day and age people like you with your intolerance for others and total lack of Ahavat Yisrael still exist in this day and age…
      3. In addition to the Emanuel Synagogue which has long supported us and always made us feel welcome as equals in their community, other frum communities such as Chabad and Nefesh also do not seem to be put off or nauseated by us joining their Shules
      4. I do not care what your personal opinion is but why do you have to nauseate so many of your fellow Jews by your sinat chinam?

    • Zak Dee says:

      Here is my Ma Nishtana 4 questions to Gil Solomon:
      1. Do left handed or flat footed Jews nauseate you?
      2. Do Jews who do not keep Kosher or Shabat etc nauseate you?
      3. If your son or daughter or other family member were gay or lesbian (openly) would they too nauseate you?
      4. Why exactly do fellow Jews who are gay and lesbian nauseate you?
      Ma Nishatana Gil Solomon, what really is your issue here?

    • I am a Holocaust survivor I am also gay. I find your thoughtless comments offensive. You are right Jewish people have enough problems in the world but they also have a lot of resilience what you do not seem to have. I am proud that in this country I and my LGBT friends are free & can be ourselves and proud to be Jewish & parade under a Jewish banner. You should change your name from Solomon who was a wise King you show very little wisdom denigrating your own people. For one who does not care for what “you people do ” in your blustering “correctness ” you sure spew lots of venom.

    • Jo Silver says:

      The Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) is proud to host a GLBTI Reference Group and support the No to Homophobia Campaign.

      It’s wonderful to see that people feel ‘safe’ enough to openly participate in the Mardi Gras and express their unique Jewish identity as well. Well done!

      The Reference Group is focused on raising awareness in our community that hurtful comments and nasty jibes can cause depression, anxiety and other well being issues for our GLBTI members. We are all people with feelings and emotions and we all have the right to open our door every day and face the world without feeling harassed.

Speak Your Mind

Comments received without a full name will not be considered
Email addresses are NEVER published! All comments are moderated. J-Wire will publish considered comments by people who provide a real name and email address. Comments that are abusive, rude, defamatory or which contain offensive language will not be published

Got something to say about this?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.