April 20, 2006


After early May final exams, I'm off to Israel for a few weeks - there's family to see, shopping to do, falafel to eat, and skin cancer a tan to obtain. "Hmm," I pondered aloud, "I seem to know a ridiculous number of raging Jewish American queers. Could they possibly have an Israeli counterpart?" After some googling, a handy online atlas or three, and a revival of dormant Hebrew skillz, I'm pleased to present

Boi, Habibi, Nishtage'ah:* A Quenchista's Quick-n-Dirty Guide To Tel Aviv For Women Who Love Women.

[1] The Location. Good news, folks - Tel Aviv is the largest and most liberal city in Israel. Basically, it's the Israeli San Francisco. Be happy.

[2] The Language. I've made a list of some pertinent slang that won't be found in any guidebook, but that one would still appreciate knowing were one to encounter any of it. I'm no linguist, and I'm a pretty bad voice coach to boot, so go ask your friendly neighborhood Hebrew speaker for help with pronunciation.

- dochef batachat = lit. "one who pushes into the ass", fig. "gay" with possible implication of being a "top" (offensive term)
- noshech kariyot = lit. "pillow biter", fig. "gay" (offensive term)
- homo = "homosexual" (noun) (connotation similar to English "homo")
- mitromem = lit. "faggot", fig. "gay" (connotation similar to English "queer", but male-specific)
- lezbit = "lesbian" (connotation similar to English "lezzie")
- koos = "pussy"
- "גאווה" pronounced "ga'avah" - lit. "pride"

[3] The Law. Homosexuality was decriminalized in Israel in 1988. Workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation was banned in 1992. In 1993, the army adopted a policy of allowing openly homosexual soldiers to serve in any capacity. Though there is no civil marriage in Israel, even for heterosexual couples, both the Supreme Court and the military have recognised same-sex domestic partners as eligible for spousal benefits. In other words, Israel is in many ways far ahead of the United States. Oy.

[4] The Life. Hokay, so. There's a lot of clubs and bars in Tel Aviv, and they all keep changing. The main thoroughfare for nightclubs is purportedly Rechov Allenby -- Allenby Street -- a claim I will investigate thoroughly. Bars are usually open until 3 or 4am, while clubs will keep their doors open until 6 or 7am, charging anything from NIS50 to NIS80 cover charge and NIS15-30 for drinks. Most clubs in the city don't start jumpng until the wee hours, 2 or 3am. The legal drinking age in Israel is 18.

For the ladies, best bet is Minerva, on 98 Allenby, open every night past 9pm. They've been around for eight years, have a different DJ every night with a live rock cabaret show on Sundays, and have a "bordello-style" bar (no idea what that means, but it sounds ... interesting.) I'm definitely checking this place out. There's also a place called Scores, on the corner of Allenby and Yehuda Halevi, where they apparently "pride themselves on being a spot where women can feel comfortable with a cue stick."

The Tel Aviv Gay Pride Parade, which attracts upwards of 100,000 people and is the largest in Israel, takes place at the end of June. (Oy again - I'm only there till the end of May.)

The Tel Aviv Cinematheque screens gay films every month as part of its Pink Cinema Club. Hebrew speakers can pick up Z'man Varod (The Pink Times) for listings, information, and current events.

Chinky Beach is known as Tel Aviv's alternative beach. Friday nights see hippie-types come by the dozens to juggle firesticks and drum in Shabbat.

Find yourself with nothing to do, and you might want to head down to 28 Nahmani St. Aguda, lit. "The Association", is the largest and best-known GLBT organization in the state of Israel. Their Tel Aviv center is located in the center of the budding gay district of Tel Aviv. Check them out at their English website. They operate a helpline called YESH (lit. "There Is", fig. "We can!" or "Yes!"), and they have English speakers answering the phones.


Well, that's all I've got right now. Now I REALLY can't wait to get the hell outta dodge. There is the small matter of not being out to my grandparents or anybody else in my extended family, but I'll come out of that closet when I come to it.

Happy Thursday, everyone!

*Loosely, "C'mon, Lady, Let's Rock Out!" This half-Arabic, half-Hebrew expression comes from the Missy Elliott song "Party to Damascus."


icarus said...

bat dor rocks my world so much.

israeli homos make me happy.

emily2 said...

i love that missy elliott track. missy rules.