Gay pride colorful 248.88.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
A new travel Web site launched by three Israelis offers a glimpse of - and guide to - Tel Aviv's gay hot spots.
Gay Tel Aviv Guide, www.gaytlvguide.com, went live a few weeks ago to coincide with Pride Month in Tel Aviv. It features information about gay culture in Israel, as well as advice about accommodations and nightlife. Illustrated with photos of a couple embracing and two bathing suit-clad men at the beach, the guide's content ranges from essays on gay rights in Israel to what time club-goers typically go out at night.
The site is the brainchild of Ron Shoshani and two of his friends, self-described computer nerds who work in high-tech by day and built the site on their own time. The trio began working on the site last year, after friends from abroad visited Israel armed with outdated maps and guides to Tel Aviv's gay hot spots.
"I found myself saying, 'You should go here and you should go there,'" Shoshani recalled. "We realized there's no good Web site with resources and good information about gay Tel Aviv."
Written in English, the site is geared toward tourists and Shoshani said it was a conscious decision not to include gay cafes and restaurants in the guide. Tel Aviv as a city is open and gay-friendly, he said, so "there's no need for that."
The site also devotes space to a discussion of gay rights in Israel, particularly because the matter has been an issue for the religious right-wing, particularly in Jerusalem.
Shoshani stressed that the guide does not discuss specific points of friction - such as pride parades in Jerusalem - but offers an overview of rights afforded to gay Israelis. "We show what we think is so beautiful and special about Israel and let everyone else decide," he said. "The ones who like it, like it. The ones who don't, that's their problem."
"We try to show what being gay in Israel is all about," Shoshani said, pointing out that Israel's treatment of gays is different than in nearby countries. For example, he said, being gay in the Israeli army is not problematic, but homosexuality in the Turkish army is an issue.
"There are countries that are more advanced than Israel, let's say Canada," he said. "Israel is somewhere above the average."
So far, the site has gotten hits from browsers in 121 countries, Shoshani said, even one from Iran. "Which was, you know," he said, "quite surprising."