University of Haifa International School Student Blog
Oron Raz is 23 years old and a freshman the University of Haifa. On top of double majoring in General History and Archaeology, Oron started and heads the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transsexual (LGBT) Club at the university. The LGBT club at the University of Haifa is the first and only LGBT club on any campus, in any school or university in Israel.
Oron is tall and tan and resides in Haifa, Israel, where he was born and raised. When I met him, he took off his beige fedora and British flag backpack to sit down in the grass with me to have a small chat, interview. Oron had just successfully pulled off his first, and Israel’s first, LGBT pride event on a university campus.
Oron chose the University of Haifa because it was close to home, although he wanted me to mention that he also really loves it.
When I asked him why he wanted to start the club, it was easily understood that he wants everyone to be welcomed everywhere they go and feel right at home. He wants both straight and gay people to attend the same events and both feel comfortable and in place. “There are 300,000 people in Haifa and 20,000 at the University. I want to connect them (the gay people and the straight people., I don’t want gay people to feel different.”
Even though the club was just started in March, there are already 50 members. Seventy percent of the club is made up of girls, which to Oron and many other people comes as a surprise. “Most people think of only men as being gay. Women have much more to give, they can make an approach to people that men can’t.”
The response of the students to the new club and program today on campus was surprising, but in the best way possible! “Arab lesbians and gays took part in a Jewish gay event. Its unbelievable that they took part! I’ve never seen it! A lot of Arabs signed for gay rights.” He was nothing but smiles when telling me that. He felt that the event was “marvelous and unbelievable and that the people were moved.” I’d have to agree after getting to see and take part in it.
The LGBT Club of the University of Haifa meets once a week and plans on doing more events and programs in the future.
Oron wants other universities within Israel to start forming LGBT clubs on their campuses too, but to have the University of Haifa be the center of it all. This morning at 8:00 am, students from all over Israel met at the University which makes me believe that he is heading in the right direction.
“[This was the] the first gay event held on any university campus. Not in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, never, this was the first one. I want to talk and connect with people, I love people. You are a part of us, we celebrate your difference but also your equality.”