After commander calls on his comrades to join him as he marches in the streets in Tel Aviv, soldiers prepare pride t-shirts and rally behind him; \’It was a natural thing to come and march with him.\’
Dozens of reserve soldiers from the IDF’s armored corps (Totchanim) have decided participate in a different kind of march to what they are used to in the military. On Thursday, they will express their solidarity with the gay community in Israel by joining their friend, Lt. Omer Nachmani (Res.) – as he marches in the streets of Tel Aviv during the Gay Pride Parade.
Since he came out of the closet at age 19, Omer Nachmani (26) has sought to strengthen the rights for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community (LGBT). “A few days ago I suggested on WatsApp to my friends in the battalion to come and march with me at the Gay Pride Parade and they rose to the occasion,” Nachmani said. “There was a big response. Many friends said that they wanted to to come and express their solidarity. They even prepared t-shirts for everyone.”
Among those who will be supporting Nachmani is the reservist battalion commander Lt. Col. Eitam Berger (36) who was the first to answer the call. “Omer posted a message on WatsApp and suggested that we come and join him. From my point of view, it was a natural thing to come and march with him,” Berger explained. “I believe that as a battalion commander, I have the ability to influence combat soldiers not only on the battlefield but also when it comes to social values which are very important for us as a society.”
Despite the openness which he felt during his military service, Nachmani is convinced that there is still work to be done for the advancement of equal rights and expunging prejudice from society.
“This subject is still very much macho-oriented and stuck in its ways. There are still many soldiers who are afraid of expressing their sexual predispositions because they fear that they will be considered less of a man,” Nachmani contended.