On the occasion of Pride Month, I want to tell you about my best friend, Omri. A mutual friend connected us seven years ago, when I was looking for a co-worker on a strange concept album called "2023." The day after that meeting, I called to offer Omri friendship. He said, "What do you mean? We're already friends."
He cooks great, but loves spicy and quirky food, so it's always a little risky to taste what he brings to the picnic. He is very polite and once he almost murdered me and another friend, because we took too many plates in a hotel buffet. From him I learned that with a little patience and common sense you can find everything about everyone on the Internet. That's how I found out that my ex from high school has an exhausted beard and looks like an absolute dosh.
Omri is this man who comes to work before everyone else, follows everyone else and won't rush with me for a long afternoon, even though he resigned a week ago. He dresses best, knows how to sew and writes a historical horror series about Canaanite gods. He is the only one of his friends who is still doing reserves. Going to parties but standing on the side with a gin and tonic and in general nice to everyone, even those he doesn't like, and he's in close competition with my partner for the funniest thing in the world.
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For 20 years, Omri has lived in the center of Tel Aviv, mainly to live quietly. Living in a place where for the first time he feels welcome. But in three months he will finish packing everything that is important to him and move to Denmark. His spouse was accepted to graduate school, and on the face of it, this relocation is supposed to end after two years, but he doesn't think he'll return. The least political person I know began to feel the ground shake beneath his feet.
You can ignore some people, some of the time. From Benzi Gopstein and his thugs waiting for marchers after the gay pride parade, to an attempt to institutionalize discrimination in coalition agreements or to a steep rise in anti-LGBT hate crimes.
We can still tell ourselves that this is a small group, but Netanyahu is also our prime minister, and he just gave Avi Maoz 285 million shekels to oversee the education system and make sure that no one feels too comfortable being Omri: a little different.
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For those wondering where inspiration comes from, Florida passed a law last year known as "Don't Say Gay," which threatens to jail teachers who talk to students about sexual orientation.
On TikTok, you can find videos showing "purged" school libraries from books in which one of the protagonists is gay or lesbian, telling about the history of black people in the United States, titles like "Pocahontas - The True Story," from the Encyclopedia of Mammals, from "The Big Lie," an autobiography of a Holocaust survivor, or telling about the women of the Igbo tribe in Nigeria. Entire libraries in some districts were covered with cloth until all books were "audited."
Opponents of the law have been accused of pedophilia. The bill's sponsor, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, announced his presidential race this week, live, with Elon Musk on Twitter.
My religious friends try to explain to me and to qualify that same-sex love is considered an immoral act such as desecrating Shabbat or non-kosher food. This is not a personal attack.
But Omri is not shrimp, and his life is not about deciding which restaurant to go to tonight. As of today, most of the Israeli public cooperates, through its representatives in the government and the Knesset, with the statement that certain people are invalid by virtue of their being.
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Omri soon has her birthday. I had planned to buy him a really good gift, but he apologized and said he preferred not to accumulate any more items that needed to be flown there or stored here. When he's not worried about how and when the job will find him a worthy replacement (spoiler: it won't happen), he worries about how his evil cat will get through the flight. I find myself oscillating between denial and hysteria, and every time we meet I only half listen to him and half say goodbye in my heart.
Everyone needs Omri. If you don't already have one, keep looking. I met my Omri at the age of 36, not exactly the usual age to make new friends. A seven-year PZM isn't that much at our age, but when you consider that we correspond almost every day and almost all day, I think it's only necessary to count it in dog years.
Say there's Zoom, WhatsApp and low-cost flights. Say it's not that we used to see each other every week anyway, but the man who came with me to receive the Song of the Year award in the folk dance parade, because it really made him laugh, the man who buys Coke Zero to have in the fridge when I come, the man who drove with me to Sde Hemed because the pizzeria there is called "Hamad of Pizza", the man who remembers that six months ago I said I wanted a bag with laces "like a camp", The man who eats sushi with me in the car because we couldn't find parking and anyway what difference does it make where, the main thing is that we spend time together - this man is going, and probably won't come back.
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I won't live anywhere else anymore. This is my home, but life here peels me into pieces.
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