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Grassroots Tel Aviv tourist guide gives new perspective in time for Gay Pride

Tel Aviv'?s home grown underground city guide aims to introduce gay visitors to the real Tel Aviv scene, including some hard truths normally swept under the carpet by the government propaganda machine.

Avatar of Alessia Valenza

26th April 2012 00:37

Alessia Valenza | ILGA Asia

Voted one of the world?s best gay destinations, Tel Aviv is known for hosting one of the world?s most popular gay pride events. In recent years, it has been marred by accusations of ?pinkwashing?- the Israeli government?s efforts to highlight the positive side of the country to counteract criticism of its less popular policies, though this has not deterred self-proclaimed a-political gay tourism from visiting. But can a visit to Tel Aviv’?s pride parade encompass more than simple hedonism?

 DIY Tel Aviv by Shimrit Elisar has been running for the past three years as an underground events blog and an eBook tourist guide that has been downloaded over 2000 times. It will be appearing in print for the first time next month.

Aimed predominantly at young tourists, students and Tel Aviv?s thriving new olim and expat population, it includes the usual information found in any tourist guide (accommodation, food, nightlife, shopping, etc.), but with a distinct underground culture stance that cannot be found elsewhere. Unlike other guides, though, it also includes an entire chapter dedicated to activism and politics aimed at providing those interested with means of learning more about the political situation in Israel.

 Many people visit Tel Aviv for Pride Week and never see beyond the show put up for them by the government and the city council,? says Elisar. ?There is more to the queer scene in Tel Aviv, but you won?t find all of it in the officially sanctioned guides. Some of it is simply under the radar, but other things are ignored because they don?t toe the party line.?

 The Volunteering, Activism and Politics chapter of the guide includes information about political study tours, alternative news sources and volunteering opportunities and there are also links to various local LGBT organisations, including those for religious Jews and Palestinians.

Although the DIY Tel Aviv blog is strewn with anti-Hasbara material and information about blatantly political events, the project is predominantly a cultural tourist guide and Elisar admits that she doesn?t know how many people would take the time out of their party week to learn more about Israel. ?But the politics are there, in the background, just like they are in Tel Aviv, explains Elisar. ?I actually encourage people to ignore those parts if they view themselves as a-political or want to enjoy their holiday without thinking too much about the broader context, but I secretly hope they’?ll get curious and learn something new instead of falling for the

About the author

Shimrit Elisar is an Israeli-born British author and journalist who now splits her time between London and Tel Aviv. She?s written for Newzeek, Israel’?s now defunct electronic music magazine and has published articles about underground culture and politics in a variety of both online and offline publications in both Hebrew and English. She is currently the nightlife editor of Time Out Israel and has previously published an online dating guide in the UK.

 DIY Tel Aviv ? the alternative city guide can be found at 

 It will be available in print in May 2012.

More information, quotes and interviews, contact Shimrit Elisar at