Celebrating Pride & Community in Tel Aviv
The same thing always strikes me at Tel Aviv Pride. Well, to be precise, the same two things always strike me. I’ve attended a few different Pride parades around the world, each with its own special flavour and character, but certain things about Tel Aviv Pride never cease to amaze me.
The first phenomenon that stands out for me is the prominence of straight allies and sense of broader community that pervades the parade. This year, marching at very front of the Tel Aviv Pride parade was Tehila (Parents, Families, & Friends of LGBT People), a clear statement that this parade is not for LGBT people alone, but for their friends, families, and the entire community. Thousands of people lined the streets, standing along the parade route, filling street-side cafes, and cheering from balconies above. Many were LGBT and many were not, carrying and shouting messages of support – young and old, individuals and families. It is as if thousands of Tel Avivians come out just to say, “Yes. This is our city. You are a part of our community. We are a part of yours. And we are proud.” One thing about the Tel Aviv Pride parade that I have not yet seen in other Pride parades is that in Tel Aviv everyone mixes in with the paraders. There are no barricades to separate sidewalk from street. Friends and family join in, hopping in at the end of the parade or in the middle of the parade, mixing with their LGBT brothers and sisters. Lines and difference become blurred. Party floats, political banners, colors and faces mix together in a giant rainbow of pride.
The second phenomenon I notice is the youthfulness of Tel Aviv Pride parade. I look around me and everything feels so young. The number of young people, especially high school students – LGBT and allies – is simply astounding. The colors, the flags, the smiles, the energy… it’s as if all of the high school students of Israel have come on one giant field trip to Tel Aviv. Around 100,000 people came to the Tel Aviv Pride parade this year, and I wonder how many were youth. Hundreds of LGBT youth march together with IGY (Israel Gay Youth organization), and thousands more march with other groups or on their own. People of all ages come to watch and take part in the parade, but to me, more than anything else, it is a parade of youth, for youth. This is one day in particular when LGBT and allied youth can feel a part of something far greater and far larger than themselves; they can be out, they can be loved, and they can be proud. I look around me and I see the future. I see diversity; I see community; I see understanding and the celebration of difference. If the youth are the future, then Pride gives me hope for a future that is bright and rainbow-filled.
Elliot Glassenberg, IGY – Israel Gay Youth