TEL AVIV PRIDE DIARY
Wednesday June 6, 2012
At Newark Airport, in the security line for my flight to Tel Aviv. The 3 guys behind me sound like party planners, heading for Pride related activities. I hear the words Techno; Eilat; Beach; Parade…and notice their hipster glasses, new wave haircuts, logo tee shirts and skinny jeans. Meanwhile, the family in front of me is hard-core Orthodox, and they are wearing the black coats, tallis, wigs, payes (sidelocks), and other symbols of their tribe. This is exactly the cultural mash up I am expecting from putting together the words Gay and Israel!
Thursday June 7
Hayarkon Street, the main road along the beach, is lined with rainbow flags. Time Out Israel has major features on the week, the parade, the activities. And when I get back to the hotel room after dinner, management has left a “Dear Guests” letter alerting them to likely traffic jams due to the annual “Pride Parade,” while not specifying what kind of pride, exactly…
Friday June 8
I meet my 20 year old out cousin at noon, a block from Meir park—we missed most of the morning’s speeches (they started at 10am), but do hear the mayor of Tel Aviv welcoming everyone and reminding us to stay hydrated. Then it’s parade time. There are thousands (tens of thousands?) of people slowly making their way along the route, sun beating down pretty hard. We walk alongside 3 major floats with gogo dancers and pulsing dance music—one is sponsored by Google, one by a local news channel, one by a favorite club of my cousin’s (that one was my favorite float, with a gold and white Olympic theme). They stop regularly, causing major human gridlock. At times it borders on scary, though mostly the crowd is good natured and by Israeli standards, relatively polite. It’s a mix of young and middle-aged, 70/30 male to female, and also 70/30 topless to tanktops for the guys. When there are older people, they tend to be smiling ‘savtahs’ (grandmas) disco dancing from their apartment balconies overlooking the parade.
By 3 we’re at the end of the route, and while the crowd turns left to the beach, we turn right and go grab some lunch. Afterwards we walk down to the beach party, a giant swatch of sandy beach given over to booming club music, dozens of banners advertising beer and hook up websites, and those same masses of revelers, now glowing with suntans, sunburns, glitter and sweat. While I’ve never been to Ibiza, it’s what my fantasy of that hedonistic tropical playground is like.
The party continued through the weekend, but that’s the end of my story. Family gatherings took over after the parade, and I returned to a parallel universe. But if you ever have the opportunity to attend Tel Aviv Pride, it will update your image of ‘nice Jewish boys’ (and girls) forever!
He snapped some pictures, too:
|My brother (right) and cousin|
|The gay flag and the Israeli flag get together|
|The crowd at Tel Aviv Pride!|
|I especially loved this photo that's from my friend Ron, of a giant poster in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv. It's celebrating this year's Gay PRIDE and the image features a two dad family!|