Tel Aviv’s Gay Dads

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12/6/2022

In the middle of a recent two-week trip to Tel Aviv—a city where I lived for many years, many years ago—I suddenly realized why I felt oddly content, oddly validated, oddly accepted. Nearly all of the gay men I spent time with were dads like myself. My hip hotelier buddy and his creative director husband: Their daughter just celebrated her bat mitzvah. My old friend, a diplomat and former ambassador: His son is now 8. The hunky media dude I encountered one unbearably humid evening: dad to a daughter and son. And my ex-partner, the conductor and pianist: a father to 7-year-old twins—just a year older than my own twin sons. Unlike back home in New York City, gay fathers seemed to be everywhere in Tel Aviv. Some were married to men, others divorced from women, others co-parenting with lesbians or straight female friends—and all with minimal fuss or fanfare (or at least no more fuss or fanfare than heterosexual parents). As I joined them for coffee dates and play dates and pool dates, we spoke about summer camp and monkeypox, Beyonce and back-to-school—a mashup of parent life and queer life so natural, so organic, so easy and free-flowing that all I could think was: “This is how straight parents must feel all of the time.” For me, Tel Aviv and its community of gay dads felt nothing less than sublime. As someone who’s not just gay, but also Black and Jewish, I’ve spent my entire life searching for folks who look or live or love like me. In Israel—a place where I’m finally, mercifully not always the darkest Jew in the room—I’ve found some of that belonging on an ethnic level. But being among so many other gay parents elevated these connections to a truly existential level.

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