People often expect that I’m an outgoing guy. I pretty much put myself out there quite publicly with this blog (and oh god my tweets!), and yet I still think if I had to define myself as either shy or outgoing, I’d say I’m shy. Ask my friends, though, and they might disagree.
I don’t really have much difficulty making a fool of myself. And talking to strangers is a favorite pastime. I don’t even need to drink alcohol to get myself out on the dance floor (so long as the music is good). So, two years ago, when I went to Tel Aviv Pride for the first time, I took the chance to do all of the above.
My trip to Tel Aviv was a solo trip—though I had friends there I was visiting, none of them were really able to join during the gay pride parade and party. So, being the adventurous solo traveler that I am, I made do and went to the daytime pride parade (and subsequent beach party) all by my lonesome. Lucky for me, though, I’d managed to convince Andrew Christian—that purveyor of sexy briefs and even sexier male models—to send me a box of underwear to giveaway at the pride parade. My goal? Give away an odd 30 to 40 pairs of underwear to the sexiest guys I could meet.
But on one condition: no one would get the free underwear unless they took off whatever they were wearing, and put the new one on. And at a beach party where most guys were already just in speedos, there really wasn’t much of an option for a changing room. My approach was pretty simple: I targeted the sexiest guys on the beach, went up to them and told them I had new, free pairs of underwear from Andrew Christian to giveaway. That usually got their attention pretty quick. Very few of them were expecting the catch, though—but, of course, there was one.
After I’d explain the conditions, almost 90% of them would shrug and say “sure.” Most of those guys were quite skilled at taking off what they were wearing under towels and carefully placed t–shirts, but in true “beach party” fashion, there were those few who were completely happy to strip down to nothing to put on the free underwear.
It was one of the weirdest, most fun travel days I’ve ever had. I was totally out of my comfort zone. Put me on a dance floor and I usually don’t have much trouble talking to (or grinding on, or dancing with, or kissing) strange men. But throw me in the middle of one of the world’s sexiest pride parties with a bag of free underwear and I was totally out of my element. Here I was, a scrawny, little hipster boy, talking up the muscle men and beach-body perfect boys of Israel. And not just talking with them, actually asking them to get naked right there in front of me. And to let me photograph the whole thing!
That was a day.
Normally I wouldn’t be so willing to break out of my comfort zone, but there’s something about Tel Aviv which just drives me wild. Sure, it’s the warm weather, the carefree attitude, the hedonism, the parties, the beaches. There’s an excitement and a thrill to the city—I’m not really sure where it comes from. There’s a creativity and a passion in the city. And with this vibrancy, this energy, the city keeps me wanting to come back again and again. Because there’s always something more to do, to see. And even when there isn’t, it doesn’t matter—because the people, the places, the food—it’s all worth doing again. And again.
A little bit more about Tel Aviv Pride:
It’s going on NOW! It’s at the beginning of every June and always catches me by surprise—so I haven’t been able to ever get back there as it’s just too soon at the beginning of the summer travel season. This year, the Tel Aviv Pride has gotten a lot of press for focusing on transgender rights—usually a topic sidelined at gay pride festivals. For more information about Tel Aviv Pride, go to visit-tel-aviv.com/gayvibe or check out the White City Boy‘s Tel Aviv pride guide.
Now for some of the previously unpublished photos from when I got a bunch of hot Israeli guys to get naked at the beach: