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Gay Center Axes Israeli Apartheid Week Event After Boycott Threat by Porn Activist

Well, that was quick. We were looking forward to covering "Party to End Apartheid!," an Israeli Apartheid Week event on March 5 at the LGBT Center, where those two worlds would collide.

Our excitement was short-lived. Pornographer Michael Lucas was furious that the Center would hold such an event and vowed "a boycott that would certainly involve some of the [NYC LGBT] Center's most generous donors." Lucas, one of gay porn's most outspoken figures, is known equally for his "Men of Israel" films, his rabidly right-wing political writing for the Advocate, and his custom-made dildo in the shape of his own manhood.

We were surprised at how quickly he succeeded.

Just hours after writing, "It was an inexcusable decision on the Center's part to associate itself with a hate group like Israeli Apartheid Week, but there's still time for them to reverse course and begin restoring their reputation," Lucas proclaimed victory, writing: "We prevailed! Congratulations to everyone who stood with me in support of Israel. With your help it took only eight hours to accomplish our mission."

The LGBT Center released a two-sentence statement: "We have determined that this event is not appropriate to be held at our LGBT Community Center, which is a safe haven for LGBT groups and individuals. Therefore, the meeting at The Center has been cancelled and the host group will no longer meet at The Center."

But the LGBT Center hosts hundreds of events a year, ranging from A to Z and beyond. Does the Center endorse the viewpoint of every group, forum and discussion that occurs within its walls? Why did the Center find the Israeli Apartheid Week event to be appropriate when it booked the space, but not after Lucas complained?

"Party to End Apartheid!" was a benefit for the Siege Busters Working Group, whose membership includes Emily Henochowicz, a Cooper Union art student who lost an eye during a peace protest in Israel, and the group Existence is Resistance. Both groups are raising money to send another aid ship to Gaza. The last such unsuccessful effort led to the death of nine people (and to the protest where Henochowicz lost an eye).

[sthrasher@villagevoice.com]


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