by Abigail "Abi" Weissman, Psy.D.
Starting Sunday eve and going through Monday evening is Yom HaShoah otherwise known as Holocaust Remembrance Day. In the USA, many people seem to not know about this commemoration’s existence. I put it in my calendar yearly. I make a point to remember the Shoah, the Holocaust, that murdered my extended Jewish and queer mishpacha (family) as well as so many other peoples. On this day, I am haunted by images of starving people being rescued from internment camps. I think about the several genocides that have happened since the Shoah and I mourn those we have lost due to hatred of difference.
I also wonder what it would be like had the Holocaust never happened. I think about all the Jews that were killed and all their potential offspring that I never had a chance to get to know.
And then the day is over, and I try to remember that I am a Jew in the USA now and I don’t have to worry that the same thing will happen to those I know in my lifetime, that is, until I heard about the new concentration camps torturing gay men in Chechnya.
The minute I heard about the Chechen concentration camps, my heart sank. I didn’t think I could tolerate another blow to freedom for LGBT people in the world.
I ignored the reports. I mean, this couldn’t be happening now, right? Sure, in the USA, queer rights are being stripped away by the new presidency, but in the rest of the world, our rights are being restored, right? In my hope to make sense of the world, and to bring hope to my wounded heart, I had begun to see the world in black and white: us struggling and others okay. I knew that the world was more complicated than this but I wouldn’t let myself break free from ignorance of others’ suffering to fully feel the worldwide pain.
We must look out for those suffering and try to help. Even if our help doesn’t free them or doesn’t do all that we wish it would, we must try.
I must try.
Resting and focusing on restoring hope in the world is important. Now that some of my strength has returned,
I must remember:
I do have the power to help.
According to this article, http://forward.com/opinion/369293/where-is-the-jewish-outcry-on-chechnya/ in the Forward, most of the information about these internment camps is from the British press.
To help gay men in Chechnya, I pledge:
• To follow the British press more closely on Twitter and other social media.
• To let others know about Amnesty International’s letter-writing campaign (https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/eur46/6023/2017/en/ )
• To sign the petition created by Amnesty International at https://www.amnesty.org.uk/actions/stop-abducting-and-killing-gay-men-chechnya
• To sign the petition created by Avaaz
• To keep looking for ways I can help to make #NeverAgain really mean no more concentration camps ever again.
Please add your comment below and share how you will help support the rescue effort to save gay men being tortured in Chechnya.
Dr. Abi Weissman
Poway, CA and Hillcrest, San Diego, CA
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