June is pride celebrations across the globe and here in Tel Aviv we’re celebrating twenty years to the city’s pride parade! In honor of this year’s special festivities, we’ve collected the top ten most proud stencils in Israel.
Our most beloved stencil of all times is this wonderful image of two women kissing with the writing “Straight to the Heart” beneath it. This one is smart, funny, original and yet a classic, made with simple black spray paint. This image was originally made as the logo of the “Lethal Lesbian” film festival, dedicated to film made by or about LGBTQ issues. This stencil became a loved and familiar image in Tel Aviv, one which penetrates straight to the heart.
Speaking of hearts, another delightful stencil is this heart made of a mirror image of a man, when the only difference between these two “sweet hearts” is the shape of their mustache. We haven’t seen this one in years so if you happen to see it lately, please be sure to send a photo of it our way or just post it to our facebook page.
Dana International is an Israeli pop singer, born as a man in 1972. After consolidating her initial commercial success, she was selected in 1998 to represent Israel in the Eurovision Song Contest with her song “Diva”. Placing first at the international competition, she came to public attention throughout Europe. This stencil depicts an image of Dana as a winged fantastic figure with a crown, above a street sign to a street which actually doesn’t exist, “Queens of Israel” street (a take-off on the Tel Avivian street named “Kings of Israel”). Dana International was Israel’s Eurovision queen for the last twenty years and is a prominent figure in the LGBTQ community worldwide.
Bert and Ernie live together in an apartment in the basement of 123 Sesame Street. Despite sleeping in separate beds, they share the same bedroom, which has led to some speculation that they are a representation of gay lovers. In this stencil they are shown with a comic bubble above their heads which says: “Shalom (hello) kids we’re getting married!” Same-sex marriage cannot legally be performed in Israel yet, but we’re hoping to see that change in the near future.
On this stencil titled “Cinema Paradildo” (a take-off on the Italian movie title “Cinema Paradiso” from 1989) we see a figure who’s half man and half woman, holding a film camera. Cinema Paradiso is a movie about the love of film and this stencil, at least in our eyes, is about love and acceptance of all the different genders in our contemporary world. It could have been found a couple of years ago outside the Minerva, Tel Aviv’s first lesbian night club.
Authentic scenes of lesbians sex life is a rare thing in the visual arts, as in art in general, so this stencil, depicting two women in the middle of the act with the writing “This is my atonement”, which is part of the Jewish prayer and ritual on “Yom Kipur”, is defiantly a head-turner on the street.
This stencil is made up by text only and delivers a very straight forward massage: “There’s no pride in occupation”. It first appeared in the streets of Tel Aviv during pride month (June) a couple of years ago and sadly, it is still relevant to Israel’s complex situation and politics.
The Jerusalem gay pride parade is the most politically charged one in Israel. It lacks some of the elements which makes the Tel Aviv pride parade a carnival. There are no trucks with dancers on them and loud rhythmic music is not played. Most marchers at the Jerusalem parade avoid extremely colorful or sexual clothing. Twice, in 2005 and 2015, the Jerusalem pride parade was marred by violence as an ultra-Orthodox Jew named Yishai Schlissel, stabbed marchers with a knife, resulting in three injuries (2005) and in six injuries, one fatal (2015). Schlissel was jailed after the 2005 attack, and was released from imprisonment three weeks before he attacked again in 2015. Sometime between these two events, this stencil of the pride flag appeared in the streets of Jerusalem, with the date 1.8.2009 – the day when the tragic Tel Aviv gay center shooting occurred.
This stencil, made in the festive colors of the pride flag, actually says “thou shalt not kill” (Hebrew: לֹא תִּרְצָח), a moral imperative included as one of the Ten Commandments in the Torah. The 2009 Tel Aviv gay center shooting resulted in the deaths of two people and injuries to at least fifteen others at the Tel Aviv branch of the Israeli LGBT Association, at the “Bar-Noar” (“Youth Bar”), on Nahmani Street in Tel Aviv, Israel, on 1 August 2009. A 26-year-old man and a 17-year-old girl were killed. As of 2018, the police had yet to apprehend the shooter. The shooting sparked widespread condemnation, with one lawmaker calling it the worst attack against the gay community in Israel’s history. The location of the attack—at the heart of what is seen as Israel’s most liberal city— resulted in protests by the gay community and liberals across the country. This stencil is one visual expression of these protests and it appeared all over Tel Aviv after the shooing.
We finish our stencil parade with the ultimate “dikecon”, Israeli singer and television personality Margalit Tzan’ani, commonly known as “Margol”. In this stencil we see Margol’s farmiliar face and under it the writing: “Have a Margolous Day!” We wish everybody all over the world a Margolous pride month and may we all be proud and filled with love all year long.