As the most progressive country in the Middle East and Asia with regards to gay rights, the Israeli LGBT community developed a rich culture and lifestyle. Tel Aviv-Jaffa, winner of the GayCities 2011 award for the Best Gay City in the World, has become a centre for LGBT culture and nightlife, and offers the thousands of tourists who attend the city a fabulous queerful experience. In the quest for the local gaybourhood, one may be disappointed, for the LGBT community is not confined to a certain area, and is present all over the city, that carries a magical sense of pride.
Beyond the many clubs, bars and cafes, and the flourishing daily nightlife scene, Tel Aviv-Jaffa municipality opened the City's Gay Community Centre in 2008. This centre offers not only counseling and medical services to LGBTs, but has also taken upon itself to become a cultural facility, that arranges various activities for the LGBT community members. Queer yoga, theatre classes, drag lessons, choir, dance and many more activities are open to the gay public, thus creating a friendly environment which brings community members together. Located in the midst of the Meir garden, the Gay Centre attracts many community members every day, and offers special events on national holidays.
The TLVfest, Tel Aviv LGBT international film festival, was launched in 2006, and has become an annual tradition that attracts thousands of visitors every June. The festival includes both Israeli and foreign productions, and serves also as an opportunity to meet and discuss with the filmmakers, and to promote a more tolerant and liberal Israel.
Lethal Lesbian, an Israeli film festival dedicated entirely to lesbian contents, is held annually since 2008. This unique event aims at bringing lesbian cinema closer to its audience; and promoting lesbian filmmakers. The festival is comprised of various films, in any genre, and is the only film festival in Israel screening work that is entirely local.
The Tel Aviv Pride Parade is held annually since 1993, and is an experience you would not like to miss! As one of the most impressive parades in the world, the Tel Aviv parade attracts thousands of tourists every year, who join the enormous amount of Israeli supporters as they cross the streets of Tel Aviv. The colourful parade ends in a large beach party, and many other pride parties are held in honour of this joyous event.
The Hilton Beach, located near the Independence Garden and the Hilton hotel, is the official gay beach of Tel Aviv-Jaffa, attracting many gay men who seek to relax and indulge under the city's eternal sun. This beach has also become a main site for cruising, in a very gay-friendly atmosphere.
Atraf, an online dating system, offers a free and easy way to cruise, meet and interact with local Israeli gay men. As the city never sleeps, Atraf never rests, and you may chat with thousands of online members 24 hours a day. While you're online, visit the Tel Aviv Gay Vibe, a guide to Tel Aviv's extraordinary day and nightlife. This website includes recommendations and direction for place to see and be seen - anytime, anywhere, and proudly presents the true GAY vibe of this city.
Other major cities in Israel also develop an intriguing scene:
Jerusalem's Open House for Pride and Tolerance serves as a gay centre for the Jerusalem LGBT community. The Mikveh bar (formerly known as the Shushan bar) is a famous gay bar operating in the city, and the Jerusalem's Pride Parade takes place every June for the past years.
For the past 11 years, Eilat offers an annual festival "Eilat in Pride", attracting many LGBT Israeli and foreign vacationers to the southern city.
In Haifa, Haifa Forum serves the gay centre for the local gay community. Annual Pride Parade is held since 2007, and several bars and cafes serve the small, but proud community.