The next morning in Tel Aviv, after our busy day before traipsing across the city, we decided to take things a lot slower.
See, today was Tel Aviv pride which meant a huge party across the city as 250,000 revellers descended upon Tel Aviv.
Thing is though, Pride is about so much more than just a party – the first Pride was actually a riot that started at the Stonewall Inn in New York to protest against discrimination and violence towards the LGBTQ community.
This was 50 years ago, so much has been achieved now – which is in large part why Pride is a huge celebration but there’s still so much to fight for and to stand up against. It’s a celebration and a revolution for equality. A fact which we were reminded of when we met members of IGY – Israel Gay Youth, an LGBTQ organisation working on improving the lives of LGBTQ youth.
We got to speak to members of the IGY prior to the start of the parade who spoke about their personal experiences of being LGBTQ in Israel, the support available for them and the discrimination they still faced.
Israel is way ahead of any of its neighbours when it comes to LGTBQ rights but from speaking to IGY, there was still a sense that there’s still so much left to be done here. It was so impressive to see these young kids standing up for themselves, finding their chosen family and in a lot of ways understanding their self-worth.
Thankfully places like IGY exist for them to truly be themselves and across the board this was one thing, despite the different background, coming out stories, cultures and upbringing, all had in common. In IGY, they’d found their tribe and it was just such a highlight of Pride in Tel Aviv getting to meet them.
The parade is such great fun too and everyone across all age groups just gets involved.
There are people spraying water everywhere to cool down revellers marching, dancing and singing down the streets and it’s just one huge party!
The energy in the air is palpable!
We basically proceeded to slow-dance our way through Tel Aviv, stopping every to cool off in the heat, occasionally wishing we’d worn swimwear out so we could go for a quick dip to cool off on the beach (loads of people had the right idea and did this actually).
To say it was a colourful affair would be something of an understatement! Actually, I’ll just leave you with a few photos to show you around the parade down by the beach…
Eventually, after about 5 hours on the trot, we headed back to our hotel to cool off in the rooftop pool – beers in hand.
After speaking to IGY, it was interesting to hear the perspective of adult members of Israel’s LGBT community too.
There were lots of shared perspectives too but overall, a sense of gratefulness for being able to live life as their true selves – out, open and proud! There was also lots of optimism for the future based on how far Israel had come, tempered with pragmatism for how much further there was still to go.
The food at Coco Bambino was absolutely delicious, by the way! Sooooo sooooo good!
I can’t even remember all of the stuff we had, I just remember dish after dish of deliciousness constantly arriving at our table.
Eventually, we said farewell to Mama De La Smallah and also to Hen as they had other engagements and, still energised, decided to head over to a rooftop bar for a quick nightcap before calling it a day.
And just like that, it was time to head home!
Israel had proven to be such an amazing destination to visit, in a lot of ways because of how beautiful it is (and how delicious the food was too) but also because of how open everyone we’d met so far had been. It’s not without its problems – nowhere in the world really is to be fair but the fact that there’s open dialogue, and an understanding of the issues is a great thing as that’s usually a key part of resolving any issues that arise.
It’s so incredibly diverse too. So much more so than we realised prior to visiting.
It felt like we did and saw so much in just that week alone but even a quick glance at Wikipedia already has us concocting so many reasons why we have to return and explore even more of this absolutely beautiful part of the world. 😀