Tel Aviv has long been known as one of the Middle East’s most welcoming cities for LGBTQIA+ residents and visitors, and it’s famous for putting on one of the best — and largest — Pride celebrations in the world, in rare company with Madrid, Taipei, Sydney and Johannesburg in terms of attendance. Now that COVID restrictions have lifted, Pride returns to Tel Aviv from June 8-12, 2022, with its annual parade on June 10th, which is slated to have more floats than ever before in its history.
The parade will begin on Rokach Boulevard, near the Sportek, and will continue to the show area in Ganei Yehoshua Park, where the main stage will be set up to feature the best of Tel Aviv’s nightlife with an array of DJs, drag queens, dancers, and performers. Tens of thousands of visitors from all over the world, along with global media outlets, will return to the city for four full days of events.
Eyal Carlin, Tourism Commissioner for North America, says, “The LGBTQ+ community is celebrated year-round in Tel Aviv, but June in particular is a month when the city’s Pride spirit is out more than ever. We are so happy to be welcoming international travelers back for the Pride festivities in Tel Aviv and around Israel.”
Mayor of Tel Aviv-Yafo Ron Huldai adds, “Pride events in Tel Aviv-Yafo are a long-standing tradition with messages of equality and acceptance at their core. The city of Tel Aviv-Yafo, a warm home for all communities living in it and proud to be a groundbreaking city in relation to the LGBTQ+ community and a global source of inspiration, will celebrate and march this year with unconditional support in reaching full equality for every citizen. “
I spoke with Zippi Brand, deputy mayor of tourism and Tel Aviv Global, and Ruby Magen, Director of the LGBT Center, and asked them each to describe what queer life in Tel Aviv is like for residents.
Brand replied, “Queer life in the city is an integral part of our vibrant and accepting environment. There are endless possibilities to experience all Tel Aviv has to offer, ranging from our renowned culinary scene to our lively beaches and nightlife. Queer tourists can feel comfortable being who they are and doing what they love in the city that never sleeps.”
Magen added, “Tel Aviv truly is a city that has it all. It is true we are known for one of the best nightlife scenes in the world, but we have so much more than that. A huge part of queer life here is activism — volunteering and changing a reality that for some people is not always very pink. Organizations like IGY, Beit Dror, and the municipal LGBTQ center form safe havens for youth at risk, members of the trans community and everyone struggling with their identity. What’s so amazing about this city is that everyone can come as they are and they will be received with open arms and hearts.”
When asked what challenges remain, Brand reminds us that, while Tel Aviv legalized same-sex couples’ registration at the municipal level, which provides the same civic rights as heterosexual couples have, the state has yet to follow suit.
Mader adds that advocacy is still needed for the elderly LGBTQ+ community, as well as educating children on the importance of acceptance from an early age while also providing support for those struggling with their identities. She says, “This support system must extend to the professional arena, where inclusion for members of the trans community needs to be made a focal point.”
The Proud Community, as a minority group fighting for equal rights, has managed to cement itself as a strong and unique community with rich and groundbreaking cultural enterprises. The proud culture has developed traditions that will be reflected in this year’s Pride events, which will symbolize “Back to Pride” with its demonstration of openness, diversity, and acceptance of one another.
Official pride celebrations kicked off on May 20th with Dragovision, a drag version of the Eurovision song festival. Throughout the month, the municipal LGBTQ community center will be hosting events in support of the whole community, along with “Pride in the Neighborhood” events in each center, informational talks with LGBTQ youth enlisting in the army, a picnic for the whole family, women-only raves, internationally acclaimed drag queens like Bianca Del Rio and Chelseaboy will be flying in for exclusive shows.
For more information on Tel Aviv Pride events, visit the event website here.