Tel Aviv, the “Gay Capital of the Middle East,” welcomes the Return Of Pride Celebration June 8-12

Long known as one of the Middle East’s most welcoming cities for LGBTQIA+ residents and visitors, Tel Aviv is famous for hosting one of the best – and biggest – Pride celebrations in the world in rare company with Madrid, Taipei, Sydney and Johannesburg in relation to participation. With COVID restrictions lifted, Pride returns to Tel Aviv from June 8-12, 2022 with its annual parade on June 10, which is expected to feature more floats than ever in its history.

The parade begins on Rokach Boulevard near the Sportek and continues to the show area in Ganei Yehoshua Park where the main stage will be set up to showcase the best of Tel Aviv’s nightlife with an array of DJs, drag queens, dancers, and performers . Tens of thousands of visitors from around the world, as well as global media companies, will return to the city for four full days of events.

Eyal Carlin, North America Tourism Officer, said: “The LGBTQ+ community is celebrated in Tel Aviv throughout the year, but June in particular is a month when the city’s Pride spirit is more prevalent than ever. We are delighted to welcome international travelers back to Tel Aviv and throughout Israel for Pride celebrations.”

Mayor of Tel Aviv-Yafo Ron Huldai adds: “Pride events in Tel Aviv-Yafo have a long tradition of focusing on messages of equality and acceptance. The city of Tel Aviv-Yafo is a warm home for all of the communities that live within it and proud to be a pioneering city in this regard for the LGBTQ+ community and a global source of inspiration, will celebrate this year with unconditional support and march to achieve full equality for all citizens.

I spoke to Zippi Brand, Deputy Mayor for Tourism and Tel Aviv Global, and Ruby Magen, Director of the LGBT Center, and asked them both to describe how queer life in Tel Aviv is for residents.

Brand replied: “Queer life in the city is an integral part of our vibrant and accepting environment. There are endless ways to experience everything Tel Aviv has to offer, from our renowned culinary scene to our vibrant beaches and nightlife. Queer tourists can be comfortable who they are and do what they love in the city that never sleeps.”

Magen added, “Tel Aviv really is a city that has it all. It’s true that we’re known for some of the best nightlife in the world, but we have so much more than that. A big part of queer life here is activism — volunteering and changing a reality that’s not always very pink to some people . Organizations like IGY, Beit Dror and the city’s LGBTQ Center provide safe havens for at-risk youth, members of the trans community and anyone struggling with their identity. The great thing about this city is that everyone can come as they are and are welcomed with open arms and hearts.”

When asked what challenges remain, Brand reminds us that while Tel Aviv has legalized registration of same-sex couples at the municipal level, granting the same civil rights as heterosexual couples, the state has yet to follow suit.

Mader adds that there is still a need for advocacy for the older LGBTQ+ community, as well as educating children about the importance of acceptance from an early age, while also supporting those struggling with their identity. She says, “This support system needs to extend into the professional realm, where inclusion needs to be made a focus for members of the trans community.”

The Proud Community, as a minority struggling for equality, has managed to solidify itself as a strong and unique community with rich and pioneering cultural enterprises. The proud culture has developed traditions that will be reflected in this year’s Pride events, which symbolize “Back to Pride” with their demonstration of openness, diversity and mutual acceptance.

Official Pride celebrations began on May 20 with Dragovision, a drag version of the Eurovision Song Festival. Throughout the month, the city’s LGBTQ Community Center hosts community-wide support events, along with Pride in the Neighborhood events at each center, informational sessions with LGBTQ youth enlisting, a family picnic, Women’s raves, internationally acclaimed drag queens like Bianca Del Rio and Chelseaboy will fly in for exclusive shows.

For more information on the Tel Aviv Pride events, visit the event website here.

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