Welcome to our series of articles on the singles scene in Tel Aviv. Life, love, and lust, all wrapped up in a Middle Eastern glow and penned by the wonderful Pixi…if you’re easily offended, look away now!
The tide of pride
Tel Aviv has come a long way since its first Gay Pride March in 1998. This week, the colors of the rainbow blow in the summer breeze and the smell of all night partying is already in the air. Tel Aviv gay pride week is one of the most celebrated events in the world……and for good reason. It is of course, yet another excuse to party….and party hard we will; gay, straight, bi, and even the asexual are coming out to play!
But leave the partying for just a moment. I wanted to gain a deeper insight into the gay and lesbian community of Tel Aviv. Preferring not to rely on stereotypical portrayals I chose to dedicate my week to research in order to draw some conclusions about single life in gay Tel Aviv.
So we already know how fantastic it is to be able to express our sexuality in this Mediterranean hub of liberalism. What I was searching for was a single’s perspective. Just how easy or hard is it to find love in Tel Aviv’s gay community?
I started with my pilates instructor, Ronen, a handsome and intelligent guy in his early 30s who invited me to console him about his recent break up over a glass of ice tea. Interestingly enough the only ice he could offer me was in the shape of mini penises, a feature I found most delightful but seemed to trigger only tears from the broken hearted Ronen.
I tried to cheer him up by joking that it must have been the size of the ice penises that reminded him of his ex. His tears however were not so much because of his previous relationship but the effort needed to find a new one. He explained to me that the limitations of the gay community in Tel Aviv far outweigh the benefits of living in such an open and tolerant atmosphere.
The online gay dating scene is limited to 2 websites: The well established www.atraf.co.il and a recent newcomer to the scene, “Blend’r” – a dating application for cellular phones, which I have been told has little to do with the concept of dating at all. Rather, these kinds of tools are used primarily for ‘hook ups’ and one night stands. The consensus among a group of gay friends the following evening was that you are unlikely to find anything serious or long lasting from them.
So we hit the bars. If you have read my previous columns you will be aware that I am a big fan of human interaction. We headed to the Shpagat bar on Nahalat Binyamin where I was pleasantly surprised by the intimate and cozy atmosphere. Here, we came across some fantastic people, open to conversation and hopefully to the idea of a relationship. I made the strategic decision to steer clear of the annoying Asi who talked non stop about his sexual exploits on MDMA and chose to join a group of friendly looking people.
What I gained from my conversation with them was of a similar theme to what Ronen had spoken of. “Where do we find new people that aren’t just interested in sex?”
Well, I thought to myself, we have the same problems in the straight community. It was brought to my attention however that there are far fewer options for gay people. “Think about it” one man said, “You have an endless choice of Tel Aviv bars where you can find all different kinds of people. We are limited to the same bars. Sure, new ones open, but its always the same faces who we have seen time and time again”. He had a point, but this is where online dating comes in. Sure, we all need to sift through the non-serious ones but we do this in the hope that we will eventually reach someone who is different and worthwhile.
I know one such person who is active on Israel’s only dating website for lesbians. Rona is the most brilliant and unique girl I know, and yet seems to have an issue finding someone as serious as she is about love. She explained to me that because she is not part of the lesbian ‘scene’ in Tel Aviv she is limited to this website.
I hope for her sake that someone great who is searching for the same thing lands on her profile. Her only other option is hitting the scene once more and mixing with the same familiar faces as before in the hope that someone new pops up who is not connected to anyone through previous relationships or hook ups.
So the conclusion I come to is less than exciting and certainly not optimistic. The trials and tribulations of online dating are universal. The hardships of starting new relationships are not made any easier by fancy phone apps, websites, or even pride marches.
However, one’s pain can always be eased by mini ice penises in a tall glass of peach ice tea.
Read more great stuff from Pixi here.