Contrary to popular belief Tel Aviv is in the Middle East.
In my almost-30 years, I’ve never felt such freedom and seen so many different people gathered around the same values as during the celebration of Gay Pride in Tel Aviv. Joyful, colorful, powerful, sometimes a bit terrifying, but, for me, at certain moments, painfully touching. Although I knew what the day would be like, I wasn’t expecting to have such a visceral reaction to it.
More than 200,000 people, both locals and foreigners—and among them an estimated 35,000 tourists—make the city’s authority-funded Pride event the biggest of its kind in the Middle East.
Young and old, gay men, lesbians, straight people, trans women and men, gender benders, couples with children; all possible body types, different nationalities, ethnicities, and religions: there was room for everyone. And this year the huge street party’s theme was “Women for Change,” promoting women’s role in the LGBT+ community.
“Dear friends, we have been marching for years, and we will keep on marching in a search for equality,” veteran Tel Aviv mayor Ron Huldai told the crowd before the start of the march. “We will keep on walking the streets of Tel Aviv in the hope that pluralism, tolerance, and the liberal values of this city will spread throughout the country, Middle East, and the whole world,” said Huldai, who has run the city since 1998.
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