THE BLOG
07/06/2012 06:37 pm ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

‏Welcome Back to the Disco Days

It wasn't too long ago when listening to ABBA, watching Gossip Girl and adoring Meryl Streep were considered "enough" to be gay. With your best girlfriend on one arm, and a Prada bag on the other, you knew you were a part of "the family." Today, however, it seems that the definition of being gay includes having a political agenda and motive. There is nothing wrong with this notion of politically charged movements, but somewhere along the way, we lost all the fun in just being gay. We lost the glitter, the musicals and the shine to the now socially mandated divestments and pinkwashings. Thank God we didn't lose our sense of style.

The color pink has been all over the news in the past year. Not because it was the hottest color of the Milan or Paris fashion shows, but because of the new term that was introduced to the media: Pinkwashing. The term was first established by breast cancer organizations to describe the activities of companies and groups leading the struggle to eradicate the disease. Later, the term was adopted by LGBT and other civil movements to describe the strategy of concealing the possible violations of Palestinian rights behind an image of modernity signified by Israeli gay life. However, the two topics are completely separate and there is no need to address both in the same context, as they pertain to different issues in Israeli life today.

It is widely agreed and known that the LGBT community in Israel has achieved many milestones since the early 1980s, something which makes me, an Israeli citizen and member of the gay community, very proud. However, according to Israel's critics, the Israeli government is trying to hide all of her misdeeds vis-à-vis the Palestinians behind Israeli society's positive approach towards the LGBT community. Don't get me wrong: Israel still has a long way to go on the subject of LGBT rights, in spite of the fact that it is one of the most advanced societies in the world.  In fact, some parts of Israeli society are becoming more religious and extremist, which do not bode well on the LGBT community. When a woman in Bet Shemesh, an orthodox neighborhood outside of Jerusalem, is banned from sitting in the front rows of a bus because they are reserved for men, you can only imagine the response I would illicit if I held hands with my spouse on the same bus. Even in the wonderful city of Tel Aviv, which is truly a gay capital in the Middle East (recently named Best Gay City for 2012), there was a recent incident in which a homeowner refused to rent his apartment to gay couples.  And now, add the term pinkwashing and the entire gay movement has become politicized to such an extent that the positive achievements and freedoms enjoyed by gay people in Tel Aviv is just a front for Palestinian misgivings.  Countless articles have been published for and against pinkwashing as academics and activists go head to head against mainstream opinion while others continue to call for divestment.  This is a very risky path for the LGBT movement in the Middle East and in Israel in particular. Yes, it is true that there is a lot to be done on some human rights issues, but let us use the LGBT issues in Israel as an example of hope, success and an ultimate proof that long, hard efforts end up paying off.  Don't use this community as a battlefield; celebrate it and reclaim your pink spirit wholeheartedly.

As the over-exposed and highly annoying Lady Gaga says in one of her songs, "Don't be a drag, just be a queen."

Gay people have a battle to wage for their right to a normal life all over the world. So finally, when something is good and moving forward on the right track -- even if it is in Israel, which too many people love to hate -- embrace it, love it and enjoy it. Use this as leverage to climb higher and promote gay rights all over the world, especially where it is needed. I know for a fact that within the Palestinian society, gays are far from being accepted as equals. So why not aim for winning some normalcy for them, instead of just bashing Israel? 

I would like to end with a final thought: Let me be happy without always having to think in a political mindset. While it is important to be aware of all other minority groups, it is also important to enjoy life, live in the moment and appreciate the success so far of the LGBT community in Israel. I want to celebrate my life and paint it in pink -- real pink! So put on some disco music and just dance.

Udi Urman is an Israeli who cares, living in the U.S. with and working at the Israeli Consulate, who chose to address the issue as a gay Israeli husband and father, and a major supporter of human rights.