Tel Aviv’s annual Pride Parade felt less like a parade than a city-wide party.
Focused on supporting the transgender community, the city’s 17th Pride Festival was Israel’s largest-ever gay pride event with over 180,000 people marching, and about 30,000 tourists who came for the event.
The entire city felt brighter, with rainbow hues of the Gay Pride flags visible everywhere, from the walls and tables of cafes and shops on Rothschild Boulevard to the flags hung from balconies, porticoes and entrances of buildings in every Tel Aviv neighborhood.
Native Israelis, new immigrants and first-time visitors took to the streets together in celebration, in a raucous expression of individuality as well as a broader sense of community and support.
And the parade, held on Friday morning, June 12, was a powerful statement that Tel Aviv supports its lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
The conditions for transgender Israelis and the larger LGBT community have improved in recent years, said Tel Aviv mayor Ron Huldai at the beginning of the festivities, although he reminded the crowd that more needs to be done.