More than 20,000 gays, lesbians, and curiosity seekers turned out for Tel Aviv’s 11th annual Gay Pride Parade on Friday, June 12. The event was staged by the city’s growing homosexual community, was coordinated as a part of the community’s Gay Pride Month and the city’s 100th birthday celebration. Gays and lesbians from all over Israel, as well as many visitors from abroad participated in the colorful event which includes groups like “Rugada”, a Russian group of (slightly) hairy gay men, Transgenders for Change, the Israeli Arab lesbian group “Asawat” (voices), “Bat Kol” ( Jewish religious lesbians) and one called Femmes.
The celebrations began at 10 a.m. with a “pre parade” Gay and Lesbian Tourism Expo outside the Gan Meir GLBT Center in central Tel Aviv that included a number of tourism and other exhibits of interest to the gay and lesbian community, as well as music and other live entertainment. The parade itself kicked off at 1 p.m. on Borgrashov Street, and moved along to Ben Yehuda and Gordon streets before ending up at Gordon Beach where a TGIF beach party was held with music mixes by a professional DJ and plenty of snacks, beer and soft drinks until Shabbat began.
Besides the usual drag queens, muscle beach guys and other celebrants, this year’s parade included Israel’s version of Dykes on Bykes, in which lesbian participants on all kinds of motorized two wheelers (from cycles to mopeds) rode in unison together with rainbow colored Gay Pride flags attached to their handle bars.
Another unusual event this year was a mass “wedding” of five couples, something never done before in the Community (such weddings, although not legally recognized, are usually done in private due to adverse reactions from the non-gay community, especially the religious communities).
The festivities didn’t end on the Sabbath’s onset, however, as smaller parties continued into the night at various gay and lesbian pubs and other hang-outs.
For those who had to end their celebrating at the onset of Shabbat, as well as for all other interested participants, a Pink Elephant party will kick off at 6 p.m. Saturday evening at the Tel Aviv Port opposite the Montana Ice Cream emporium.
Tel Aviv’s homosexual and lesbian community has become one of the most active ones in the Western World; and certainly the most high profile one in the entire Middle East. Gay and Lesbian tourism to Israel has increased substantially in recent years, with visitors from many countries coming to the “non-stop city” to enjoy its many attractions for the Community. “We want people to feel fully free to come here and enjoy being with Israeli gays and lesbians, and even to get married if they choose to do so”, a Gay Pride official said.
July 15, 2009 at 9:15 pm
Why of all places where immorality is taken place in a canaan land a promise land and the inhabitants practically decided to commit such dirty act. What on earth is the government of Israel doing to allow Gay and lesbian practices in Israel. They should be watching out for God’s anger upon the entire Nation called Israel.