The Power of Rainbow Youth Tours
By Josie Usow
Rainbow Tour has begun holding walking tours with younger groups. These groups consist of 16-year-old young adults. The two tours I have attended have been with Diller Teen Fellows, a trip that prepares students to be leaders in their communities. A good leader must be invested in learning about different perspectives and people. This is where we come in. We feel that, as young people explore and form opinions while in Israel, Queer people must be a part of the equation. Making up a sizable portion of the population and 25 percent of Tel Aviv, their stories deserve to be listened to.
Both groups I met had recently arrived in Israel and were eager to learn and take in the buzzing energy around them. One of the tours took place at the same time as the Nachalat Binyamin art market and participants looked interestingly at the bustling surroundings. Aside from their excitement about Tel Aviv, both groups also showed deep willingness to engage in hard conversations about the Queer community. They thoughtfully spoke about the treatment of people in the LGBTQ+ community in Israel. During a small group activity some participants passionately talked about their opinions on inclusivity of trans people in sports and in the army. I spoke with their staff leader who revealed that topics related to the LGBTQ+ community came up often in the group. For many young people, these conversations are less taboo than for adults. According to a Gallup Survey, 1 in 6 Gen Z adults identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community. However, as a Queer American in Israel, I think Queerness must be taken out of the United States context for Americans every so often. We as Queer people must be reminded that people like us exist everywhere, in every country. In my experience, one can easily be a knowledgeable part of the community without every learning about the fight for equality in other countries. Therefore, this tour invaluably exposes participants to a history they may have never thought to explore. Learning about Israel and the LGBTQ+ community could spur more questions, research, and even activism.
We cannot quantify the true ripple effect of Rainbow Tour for young people. Who knows the outcome of a closeted participant meeting someone like them who thrives in their identity? Perhaps someone who never stopped to think about marginalized communities will ponder their role in the fight for equality. Maybe a young person, who in the past has blindly posted infographics online spreading misinformation, will stop to think about the nuances of others’ experiences. I wish that I had taken Rainbow Tour as a teenager and been exposed to the extent to which Tel Aviv is a haven for Queer people. We hope that our tours will inspire people of all ages to learn more about the Queer community and support us and other marginalized groups .