When one is asked to think about gay friendly cities to visit, the Middle East is probably not the first place you would think of. Yet Israel, a small country with less than 8 million inhabitants, has one of the most active and gay-friendly communities anywhere in the world. Tel-Aviv, a city located to the west of the Israel along the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, has recently become a magnet for gay tourists from all over the globe. It’s gay pride week in June attracts gays and lesbians by the thousands.
Tel-Aviv is possibly the gayest city I have had the opportunity of traveling to (even gayer than New York, Los Angeles, or San Francisco). The locals joke that there is no such thing as a “gay-friendly” locale in Tel-Aviv, but rather “straight-friendly” places. Regardless of the day of the week, the bars and clubs are full of locals and international tourists. The Block, a club located inside a train station, is open from 1:00 am until 8:00 or 9:00 am, as are the majority of the clubs in the area. If the beach is your thing, make sure to stop by Hilton Beach, a gay beach that rivals Laguna Beach’s gay friendly Will Rogers Beach. Here, you can relax and sip on a margarita at one of the beach parties or brush up on your international language skills as you mingle with other tourists. And don’t worry if you don’t speak fluent Hebrew. Most of the locals speak English and are more than happy to show you around. In fact, Israelis are some of the friendliest people I have come across.
Aside from the countless gay activities Tel-Aviv has to offer, you can also take a one hour train ride east and visit Jerusalem, the Holy City. Here, you can visit the old city, Dome of the Rock, and Oskar Schindler’s grave. Just 45 minutes from Jerusalem, you can drive further east to take a dip (or rather float) in the dead sea, the lowest place on earth. Just be prepared for the heat, as temperatures are known to climb over 110 degrees. Try authentic hummus and falafel or a shawarma, a traditional Israeli dish.
With the extensive variety of tourist attractions in and around Tel-Aviv, along with the genuine respect and acceptance towards the LGBTQ community, it makes it a perfect travel destination for anyone, especially all of our brothers and sisters.