Congratulations on having won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. You fully deserve it. However, instead of flowers, I’d like to send you a gentle, angry pink triangle--the gay equivalent of the yellow star of David.
I am concerned that through your acceptance speech countless people around the globe might hear more about the terrible suffering of one people than the suffering of the many, including gays, [Romani] and vagrants, Poles, Czechs, Marxists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, the terminally ill, and the [intellectually disabled]. Surely, all those millions who also perished deserve our equal attention and understanding—if only to prevent similar occurrences elsewhere in the world.
Surely, no individual, no group, or no nation holds a copyright, a monopoly on Holocaust suffering. We all interconnect. Yet, 41 years after Auschwitz, only a few Jewish groups have let go of their open or hidden hostility toward gays; even fewer have endorsed the cause of homosexual and other concentration camp survivors and that of their children, their gay and lesbian inheritors.
Dear Mr. Wiesel, wouldn’t it be a sign of shared compassion, a true mark of caring, if you could reach out now to those of us who were forced to wear any of the symbols of discrimination, such as the pink triangle (to tell Nazi guards that we were “queers”) or the star of David in pink and yellow (to indicate to racist doctors that we were “queer Jews”)?
Shalom, and let there be true peace.
Editor’s Note 1: Although a number of people—including Charles-Gene McDaniel, professor and chairman of the Journalism Department at Roosevelt University in Chicago (“Nobel Winner Wiesel shows ‘indifference’ to gays.” Windy City Times, Oct. 23, 1986, pgs. 1-2)—had contacted Elie Wiesel and requested that he would include the groups of people who perished in the concentration camps next to the Jewish prisoners, Wiesel chose not to mention even one group, let alone all the others. Instead, he concentrated on the Jewish experience.
Editor’s Note 2: This Open Letter was written in 1986, before hostility toward gay people in Judaism, mainly based on Leviticus, subsided, so much so that in the years to follow, Reform and Conservative LGBT Jews were allowed to study and become rabbis.
Editor's Note 3: Searching through the basement, I recently found documents I thought I had lost, including this article, originally published by Windy City Times, Chicago, October 10, 1986.