Israel LGBTQ+ Movement: Q&A with IGY’s Itay Lapid
I had the opportunity to chat with Itay Lapid, IGY’s Private Donor Community Manager on the international fundraising team. IGY is an LGBTQ+ nonprofit organization in Israel that works to eradicate violence, racism, and homophobia through education and social change. “IGY” stands for “Israel Gay Youth,” but has now expanded to support young adults. They are partnered with our VidMob Gives program, where VidMob offers pro-bono creative services and creative analytics to nonprofits who align with the UNSDG’s to help amplify their message.
The following interview is edited for length and clarity.
We started in 2002 as an organization to help LGBTQ+ youth-at-risk in Israel, but now we have become the largest LGBTQ+ organization in the country and are taking care of young adults too.
For example, we’re starting the first LGBTQ+ college in the world. We work together with Israel’s Ministry of Employment to get them into the professional world by giving them a proper education.
Our organization takes care of the LGBTQ+ community in general, but the youth are still our main purpose because they usually need more support and want to talk to adults who are out of the closet. We provide workshops and training at schools and businesses, and have weekly meet-ups for youth groups (up to age 18), young adult groups (ages 18+), religious groups, Alwan groups for Arab-speaking participants, trans groups and more. We create a meaningful space for about 400 volunteers and over 4,000 youth participants.
I was a volunteer for three and a half years as the educational coordinator for IGY’s Tel Aviv drop-in center, and have now been employed full-time for a year and a half.
I’m doing a few different things. I manage the community of donors in Israel, called Friends of IGY. They support our organization through monetary donations and connections to the business world. I’m also part of the education team where we sell lectures and activities to businesses. For example, during Pride Month, companies might want to give their employees content regarding diversity and inclusion. Lastly, with our CEO, I’m helping with international fundraising, where I approach donors outside of Israel. In summary, I reach out to connections outside of IGY for awareness and resources.
VidMob is our way to reach the outer world and to get donors and members who are not aware of our activity. It’s pretty hard to reach people, even Jewish people, outside of Israel. Some of them are just on their own and don’t live in Jewish communities. We know VidMob Gives will help us make these new connections.
At first, we were nervous because we didn’t know how to approach the American market. After consulting with some members of VidMob, we realized that we have to approach it as directly as possible. We need support. If people see themselves as supporters of diversity and tolerance, they will support it. It’s more about acceptance because inside our organization we have support for the trans community, the Arab speaking community and more. It’s minorities within minorities. It’s about more than just LGBTQ+, it’s about tolerance. VidMob will help us spread that.
We get approached by brands that want to be identified with LGBTQ+, but only want to do it once a year. It’s a bit cynical to think we only need awareness during a specific month. When we pick brands that we want to work with, we’re always looking for those with common values.
To support the LGBTQ+ community year-round, brands need to support their employees first. A company can take classes or services to understand how to reach their employees. At IGY, we teach employers how to approach a trans employee in the process of changing themself or how to be sensitive to different ethnic groups. Nobody is born knowing how to approach these conversations in the right way, it’s something we need to learn.
Sometimes the best thing to do is ask people from different minority groups for their advice on how to approach them. Companies need to understand what their specific needs are to maintain their identity. In Israel, it can be very difficult to move inside different political identities within yourself, and sometimes you need support from your company. You want to know that your employer is supportive of you and wants to understand you. We’re trying to help companies be more sensitive towards their employees year-round.
Pride Month feels like my birthday because I get to see how my life has changed in a year. Where was I last year? Where am I now?
My personal story is not a difficult one because my parents accepted me immediately. This is the reason I decided to join IGY… because I felt so privileged with my circumstances and wanted to be part of a community where I could help others. I have to appreciate my family being liberal because this is not something that happens very often.
I want to be part of spreading the love and be a part of an organization whose values promote the education of acceptance. I am White and come from a good economic background, but being part of IGY allows me to understand the struggles that are so far from my world, like the youth that are both bisexual and from traditional families. My life was handed to me on a silver plate, but seeing these difficult situations gives me fuel to get more funds and resources for my organization.