In the past few years Israel has become an LGBT haven and heaven in the Middle East. Tel Aviv has become known as a Gay Capital and it is not uncommon to see LGBT tour groups walking down the street with a tour guide. This is part of an ongoing growth in Gay travel. Economically, this group has become very significant in world travel, world tourism and even within Israel tourism.
But what is there to see in a gay visit to Israel? More than meets the eye. One place to start with is right by the Hilton hotel. It has the famous gay beach right beside it. No untypical for the Middle Eastern irony, the religious beach, which allows non egalitarian dips, is located right beside the gay beach. Above these two on a cliff is “Independence Garden”, an ancient meeting place for closeted gay men. Historically, there are records of this being a secret meeting place from British Mandate times, dating back to the end of the First World War. Today, there is an ongoing debate about whether a place like this should exist in the shadows or should be lit up and abolished. Walking in to town, an outsider can’t help but notice the vibrant LGBT community, apparent on the streets proudly. Tel Aviv does not have many specifically LGBT businesses.
Instead, the majority of places and bars are gay friendly. It is said that in the center of the city the LGBT population could be as high as 30%. Whether this estimate is high or low doesn’t matter, for even the fact that it is given shows of a very strong LGBTQ influence.
Tel Aviv is also home to the biggest (and only) Pride March in the Middle East- 50,000 people participate each year. It has its own LGBT community center, home to the main NGO’s which support the community. There is also a special health clinic for LGBTs in the community center, located in the heart of the city at Gan Meir. The city is worth coming to for various other reasons: countless art galleries, museum and parties. It is also a world heritage site for the international architecture, and it is where the State of Israel was declared. Culinary enthusiasts are bound to be impressed by the fine restaurants, and above all, the night life is one of a kind. It is not for no reason that Tel Aviv is chosen time after time as one of the hottest destinations in the world.