The Jerusalem Open House is an organization of lesbians, gays, trans and bi people which was founded and run by members of the community.
Since its founding in 1997, we've been working to make Jerusalem into a city where anyone has the freedom to be themselves and live their lives. Our work is an ongoing struggle for pluralism and respecting individual rights, and we aim to open the way to an era of activism by and for the community, which will catalyze the construction of a more tolerant Israeli society.
Within a few years of its founding, the Jerusalem Open House became a focal point for LGBT activism in the Middle East.
The Jerusalem Open House advances our goals by these two complementary courses of action:
We directly provide services for the building, support, and empowerment of our community.
We work for social change in issues relevant to our community, by promoting pluralism and tolerance in Jerusalem.
As lesbian, gay, trans and bi people living in Israel, the greatest challenge we face is the tradition of conservative heterosexism, which is still enforced by most social spheres, including the family, schools, the state and religious institutions.
Even those of us now in our twenties remember times when there was absolute silencing and exclusion of all public conversation around the true diversity of human love and sexuality. Although substantial progress was made during the '90s in the field of civil rights, we as a community and as individuals still face feelings of delegitimization and the burden of enforced invisibility. These difficulties are especially strong in Jerusalem, a city of deep-rooted religious traditions, divided by political, ethnic, and religious conflicts.
The Jerusalem Open House was founded in 1997 as a non-profit organization.
After two years' planning by dozens of volunteers, a community center was opened in Ben Yehuda Street in the Jerusalem city center. The community center acts as a safe space for open expression, visibility and empowerment for the LGBT community, and all those who support pluralistic life in the holy city of Jerusalem. In October of 2000 we first raised the Pride flag on the porch of the Open House, and in June 2002, "against all odds and expectations", we led the first Pride Parade in Jerusalem, "Love Without Borders".
The Jerusalem Open House hosted and organized the World Pride events in Jerusalem in August of 2006.