CHICAGO — Three people carrying Jewish pride flags say they were kicked out of a pride march in Little Village on Saturday.
They call it the Chicago Dyke March. Organizers say they call it that because they are trying to reclaim a term that has historically been used against people in the LGBTQ community.
The march is separate from the Chicago Pride Parade and is billed as a more inclusive event focused on social justice.
Laurie Grauer says she received her Jewish pride flag from Congregation Or Chadash, where she is a member.
“It was Chicago’s first, and for a while only, LGBT congregation,” she said.
Grauer says she and two other friends were told they were unwelcome at the 1,500-person march because their flags were offensive and threatening. A small part of the encounter after the march was caught on cell phone video.
“For me, carrying this flag is a celebration of these identities I hold very dear — being Jewish and being gay,” she said.
In a statement, march organizers say they are not anti-Semitic, but they are anti-Zionist. They support the liberation of Palestine and all oppressed people everywhere.
But Grauer says she wasn’t carrying an Israeli flag ,and she wasn’t even talking about Israel until she was cornered by other marchers.
“I thought this was a space where you could be who you are completely and not have to hide anything about yourself,” she said.
Instead, she says when she told other marchers she cares for the state of Israel and thinks there should also be a safe, sovereign state for Palestinians, she was kicked out.
“Are we marching as one or are we only marching for some?” Grauer said.
On Sunday there was swift reaction on social media. The Human Rights Campaign slammed march organizers saying “this is not right.”
Grauer says the whole point of the march, which has been in Chicago since 1996, is to bridge together communities.
“What happened this weekend, she says, was the very opposite,” she said.
Grauer works for an organization called a Wider Bridge, a pro-Israel LGBTQ non-profit. Organizers of the march say they did not know she worked for that organization when they asked her to leave. They say Jewish people who are not pro-Israel are welcome at their events.
More from Grauer about what happened, in her own words here.