Just left the massive Tel Aviv pride festival. Bigger than anything I’ve experienced.
But, as with these festivals around the world, they are populated mainly by the young and drugged out, neither of which I am as I write this. Still tired from late night before. Staying out dancing for 24-48 hours straight is just not in my repertoire any longer. And the festival quickly acquired a veneer of monotony for me, despite all the commotion underneath. Drag queens on roller skates I’ve seen many times before. (Good for you, drag queens on roller skates. Not meant to besmirch your efforts. You’re always new to somebody.)
Still, it is always fun to see so much positive energy in one place. LGBT young people are fun to watch in these situations, because for them it is about freedom — and a lot of youthful showing off. So they are nothing if not bundles of happy energy and shameless flirtation. When gay 20-something boys in this country are attracted to someone, they are not afraid of marching right up to that person and saying so. That is true of the men, gay and straight, here. I’ve never had so many guys state out loud so soon — right after hello, but before the name exchange part — the explicit scenarios they have cooking in their mind. It’s the Israeli way, and you are either charmed and amused by it, or it will make you uncomfortable. I’m in the former camp.
Back to Pride: Many, many children, many with straight families. Much like Montreal Pride in that respect. Much of non-LGBT city gets behind it. Children, as usual, were not harmed in any way except to find that they are showered with rainbow kitsch and LGBT love and attention for one day. Poor things. Must devastate them.
Helpful hint: security here is not volunteers with T-shirts. It is state and federal police and Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) in full uniforms and weaponry. You cause problems here and six IDF soldiers will pick you up and carry you by all fours in very uncomfortable positions to be arrested. I’ve seen it happen three times just where I’ve been standing. And they are everywhere.
Long shot of the madness below. Plus a security shot. Click on the pics to get bigger versions.
One more thing: If I were to move here and try to start over, I’d try to get licensed as a tattoo removal expert, if it’s possible. There are a lot of bad tattoos. A lot of good tattoos. But a lot of these people are going to want to remove one or more of them as they get older. Big business.
This beach shot of the festival does not capture the enormity. Boston readers will know when I say that our Chandler Street dance would fit in the narrow strip just next to the hotels on the left. Also, this shot does not show the metal detectors and bag searches that were going on to the left outside of the picture frame. The festival itself was protected by a fenced perimeter.
Security at Tel Aviv pride was ubiquitous but did not feel oppressive. Never felt safer.
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