What started as a small parade over 15 years ago this past weekend drew more than 100,000 people — the Tel Aviv Gay Pride Parade in Israel.
Most of it went down in Gan Meir, the location “transformed into a hub of all things pride. Hundreds of rainbow-colored balloons floated above the roads, streets were covered with stickers and fliers, and pop music blared from loudspeakers,” according to the Jerusalem Post.
The 16th annual event was part of a week of celebration in Israel’s party capital, a perfect city for the occasion. Other notable parts of the city were also adorned appropriately, like Rabin Square, which according to the Post was “alight with rainbow-colored lights and flags, and streets were painted with the entire spectrum to reflect the city’s thriving LGBT culture. By Friday morning the seaside city was in full song.”
By now, you probably want to see what it looked like, so here are nine photos from Israeli newspaper Ha’Aretz (here’s a taste from one of the captions: “Drag queens and go-go dancers dance on a truck”).
Like in pride weeks around the world, it’s more than just the festivities, which is exactly what Ha’Aretz claims in a piece about this year’s pride week:
The Foreign Ministry estimates that 30,000 tourists will come to participate in the festivities. This time of year, it’s easy to see why Tel Aviv has been voted the Best Gay City in the world by American Airlines and GayCities.
Still, Pride Week is more than the sum of its parties. Throughout the week, Dizengoff Center is hosting the Pride Culture Expo, featuring speeches, live music, activism, small businesses and other activities embracing the spirit of Pride Week.
A big to-do is coming to the Jewish Agency—a group promoting people move to Israel— for appearing officially in the parade for the first time, according to the Times of Israel, after being “Spurred into action by a group of LGBT immigrants in Tel Aviv.” It’s part of the agency’s “Coming Out, Coming Home” initiative. From the Times:
Yahm Reichart, a Los Angeles native who moved to Israel seven years ago and came out within six months of his arrival, is one of the volunteers behind the movement. “Coming Out, Coming Home,” she says, is more than a support group. It’s a networking portal and a slice of the familiar in a country were life can often feel strange.
“It’s hard to meet people and there’s always language barriers and cultural barriers,” she says. “It just helps to have people in the same situation.”
Did you attend Pride in Tel Aviv? We want to hear about your experience.