Partygoers pack the streets during Tel Aviv's annual gay pride parade

Story highlights

Tens of thousands fill the streets for annual celebration

German visitor says city is very open-minded

One activist says celebration can bridge political divide

Tel Aviv, Israel CNN  — 

Tens of thousands of people filled the streets of Tel Aviv on Friday to celebrate at the city’s annual gay pride event.

The partygoers started their journey at a community park and walked through several main streets in the heart of the city before holding a large-scale beach party.   

The parade in Tel Aviv, known for its vibrant homosexual community, drew tourists from around the globe.

“What I find special about Tel Aviv is that it has a very vibrant gay community, but more than that, I find that the city itself and the people of Tel Aviv are very open-minded towards gay people,” said Neil Porter of Berlin. “Wherever we go, we can hold hands, we can kiss, and nobody ever bats an eyelid.”

Carrying colorful rainbow flags and dancing to stomping house music, marchers appeared to be entirely unaffected by the hardships of day-to-day regional politics.

“When wars are around and people threatening us, we know that we need to live the second, and this is the second,” said Yuval, a local resident.

Some residents of Tel Aviv, who often described it a bubble in the Middle East, believe the they have the power to make a real impact in the lives of many.

After the parade, “Palestinians, Jews, religious or secular, would be able to look at the mirror and say, ‘I’m gay, and I feel good about that,’ ” gay rights activist Dany Zack said.