08 Sep Gay Tel Aviv is Not Dead
Gay Tel Aviv, the LGBTQ capital of the Middle East – so they say, yet whoever travels to Israel’s cultural and party capital will quickly find out; contrary to the expectations of gay travellers, there are no gay bars left in the city. Last week, Evita, the White City’s iconic gathering spot closed its doors for good, and although there are no official explanations on why the venue closed down, the speculations have already started…
Did Tel Aviv lose its “gay travel destination” status? Not really, thinking of the 200,000-plus people participating this years PRIDE celebration. Are Tel Avivian prices – including the rentals of such popular spots in the city as Evita’s location – are getting seriously out of proportion? Surely, but this is still not a rational reason not to involve some rich business man to save the day. The truth about Tel Aviv is the following: partying habits have changed so much in the past decade, the members of the LGBT community are not longing to separate themselves from the straight crowd any longer.
Gay Tel Aviv
Venues in Gay Tel Aviv
In an ideal world there’s no need for gays to hide in clubs and bars specifically designed for them: as a part of society, we can simply go out drinking, dancing, flirting and dating to any given cool club or bar of the city, without feeling alienated. The very reason for opening gay venues was that, decades ago, the subculture needed artificially-created hot spots to flourish – this is the reason why old-school gay bars are less and less popular in open-minded cities, while narrow-minded, conservative destinations offer classic gay getaway places.
Tel Aviv is not the kind of city where gays are being pushed to the edge of society: one can walk hand in hand with his boyfriend in the middle of a crowded street, rainbow-families are so common that there’s nothing new about them, and any man can wear high heels and nail polish if he wishes to, just as anyone can be gay and dress as a lumberjack, grow a messy beard, walk around in flip-flops, and be a stereotype of a typical straight guy. The gay scene is not dead – it’s simply changing, and this change is supporting a healthy integration we, as LGBTQ society, worked on for several decades, all over the world.
Take a night at Breakfast Club – a downtown party hot spot, where girls and boys, straight and gay, young and old, posh and hipster party people are all welcome. Think of Anna Lou Lou, a “secret” bar in Jaffa which hosts the “Arabs Do It Better” party line, hosting gay Palestinian crowd just as well as open-minded Jews, regardless from sexual orientation. Even Shpagat, Tel Aviv’s most well-known, and up-to-date, coolest gay-friendly bar, decided not to advertise itself as a gay spot: as co-owner and manager, Imri Kalman’s ideology states: those times are over when we need to find refuge in designated venues. The bars, the city, the beach, and everything what comes with these are belong to all of us.
Gay Tel Aviv’s last standing old-school men’s bar, Apolo, is still open – but frankly, none of my friends ever go there, it’s mostly filled with tourists who find the venue on online gay maps. Strictly gay parties moved to non-gay venues: bear favourite “Beef”, club-kid’s line “Forever”, pop-luvers’s best kept secret “Dreck”, are all hosted in clubs which are open for straight party lines as well. And while the local community is happy to go with the flow, LGBTQ travellers arriving to Tel Aviv might expect to find a somewhat classic, yet sort of fancy gay scene – for them, at the moment, Sauna Tel Aviv is the only alternative.
Summing up Gay Tel Aviv
I personally like “gay Tel Aviv”’s new, “straight-friendly” face, yet truth be told, I know many people who hope that in the name of building a diverse society, the recently opened, gorgeous gay spa is not joining the trend; turning into an “open for all genders” bathhouse. We are all for unity coexistence, sharing and all, but there are some “gay things” we should keep just for ourselves, anyway…
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