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Digital Subscriptions > Attitude > 292 > KISS AND TEL


Tel Aviv boasts that it’s one of the gayest cities in the world, despite being in a region not known for its acceptance of homosexuality. Markus Bidaux explores the city to find out if it really is a gay oasis in the Middle East


The Middle East isn’t the most obvious choice of destination for a gay traveller but I’ve been three times. Egypt, Dubai and Oman gave me varying degrees of enjoyment, but each time I felt uncomfortable: I had to watch what I said and was wary of looking at people a certain way because at best homosexuality is socially unacceptable — if not illegal.

But for years I’d seen Tel Aviv — with images of hot, shirtless hunks posing on a stretch of golden, sandy beach — promoted as a haven for gay men. So, last summer, I finally gave in to temptation and set off for Israel.

AFTER ARRIVING in the city, I meet Shimon Shirazi, the godfather of Tel Aviv’s gay club scene. His company, FFF Group, has been hosting LGBT+ parties for 20 years, working with the likes of Boy George, Erasure and the Pet Shop Boys. We catch up with each other at Shpagat, a cool gay bar that has a concertina frontage so the crowd can spill out on to the pavement and the warm night air can circulate through the venue. Above the cocktail bar, a DJ spins a mix of Western pop songs and Arabic dance hits.

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About Attitude

Actors Anthony Rapp and Wilson Cruz discuss Star Trek’s first gay kiss, Dancing on Ice star Matt Evers comes out as gay, and we speak to Love Island’s Kem Cetinay and pop star Paloma Faith. Plus an expanded travel section featuring Thailand, Hawaii, Tel Aviv, Venice and Florida.