Sunday, June 27, 2010

Tel-Aviv, Israel Great Place for Gay Men Over 50

He who desires to see Rabbi Johanan's beauty, let him take a silver goblet as it emerges from the crucible, fill it with the seeds of red pomegranate, encircle its brim with a chaplet of red roses, and set it between the sun and the shade: its lustrous glow is akin to Rabbi Johanan's beauty.
Babylonian Talmud Bava Metzia 84a

While this particular Hasidic Prince will probably not be available to you when you visit Israel, there is a chance that someone like him might be.  It is more likely, however, that you will meet one of the thousands of more secular gay men that live there.  There are many beautiful men of all ages in Israel, and one only has to look around to see them.
Despite the theocratic influence of the Orthodox in Israel, legal rights for gay people are among the most advanced in the world.  Common-law marriages between same-sex partners are recognized, as well as legal same sex marriages performed in other countries.  The age of consent in Israel is 16. Of course, in a country so dependent on its army, there is no such thing as discrimination against gay people in the military, and discrimination is prohibited against gays and lesbians by law.  A number of gay men I have spoken with had their first gay sexual encounters in the army.  If you're interested in a gay army romance, I suggest you watch Yossi and Jagger.

The gay capital of Israel is, of course, Tel Aviv. Located on the Mediterranean, Tel Aviv has a great beach, Bauhaus architecture, great cafes, museums, and nightlife.  It truly represents that amalgam of Middle Eastern, Jewish, and European cultures that is Israel.  Accommodations range from the very expensive to the more moderately priced.  I usually stay at the Deborah Hotel, from which this picture is taken.  I advise you to both shop the websites for accommodations, as well as call the hotels.  Rates are generally negotiable.  The highlight of any stay in a hotel in Tel Aviv are the free breakfasts.  Fruit, smoked fish, yogurt, salad, hummus, and pastries are generally served without limit and are a great way to start your day.  I recommend that you find a hotel that is close to the beach and North of Bograshov Street but not too far North of Sderot Nordau.  The Eastern boundary should not be too far East of Dizengoff.  This will give you an easy walk to the beach.
The beach itself is wonderful, as is the boardwalk.  The most gay friendly area of the beach is what is referred to as "The Hilton Beach" near the Hilton Hotel.  This is where the "boys" tend to hang out.  Looking down on the beach is Independence Park, which is a major cruising area, with sex taking place in the bushes, especially at night.  The park is safe.  However, I would not recommend embarking on such an adventure with your passport or very full wallet.
No doubt, whatever your activities at the beach, at some point you're going to get hungry.  The Boardwalk has many restaurants and you can get a good idea of what Israelis are about by sitting down at any of them and enjoying the scenery.  Nighttime is party time along the Boardwalk and there is music at most of the restaurants and clubs--some live, some djs.
For those interested in gay saunas and the activities that usually take place in such establishments, Sauna City is a good place to go.  There are a variety of men there, it's clean, there are private rooms, and it's generally upbeat.  For the older gay man, there are often admirers.  By the way, the visitor who is expecting to find only the circumcised in Israel will be surprised to discover the uncircumcised as well--due largely to immigration from the former Soviet Union.
Getting around the city is easy.  Buses are plentiful and inexpensive.  They are supplemented by Sheruts, vans that follow the bus routes and are somewhat less expensive.  Taxis are also plentiful and metered.
And you are going to want to get around the city.  One of my favorite places is Neve Tzedek, a charming neighborhood, filled with little boutiques, stores, the Suzanne Dallal Dance Center, and good restaurants. The Carmel Market and the Flea Market are both great places to visit.  The Carmel Market will give you a wonderful sense of the abundance and variety of Israeli fruits and vegetables and is just great fun.
 There are a number of museums in Tel Aviv.  I especially recommend the Museum of the Diaspora.  Located on the campus of Tel Aviv University, this museum is basically a Jewish history museum, which traces the history of the Jewish people.  Of course, it has its propagandistic elements--the culmination of Jewish history being the establishment of the State of Israel, but there is a lot to learn here and the exhibits are terrific.  The location of the Museum on the Tel Aviv University campus give you an opportunity to glimpse Israeli young people.  You will also probably be surprised, as I was, at the number of Arabs, and especially Arab women in attendance at the university.  There is also a really good cafeteria at the University with prices to fit the budgets of both students and budget-conscious travelers.
A visit to The Bauhaus Center is a must.  This museum will not only provide you with information about the city's Bauhaus architecture, but also has guided tours available.  Bauhaus Architecture, brought to Tel Aviv prior to World War II, is ubiquitous in Tel Aviv, and this museum will really help you to appreciate it more.
There is so much more to write about Tel Aviv, let alone the rest of Israel.  But that will have to wait for another post.

1 comment:

    Pascal from Netanya.