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A white city turned pink: Tel Aviv as Israel's homonormative LGBTQ flagship

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Abstract

In recent years, the reputation of the so-called 'White City' Tel Aviv as one of the global gay capitals has been disseminated and upheld by mainstream media. This article builds upon existing analyses of Israel's supposed liberalness towards non-normative lifestyles and its strong links to the phenomenon of pinkwashing. The term has come to signify the glossing over of Israeli settler colonial occupation that specifically directs attention to Israel's progressive LGBTQ rights by juxtaposition with a narrative of queer oppression among Palestinian communities. Looking at a range of media representations, such as Jake Witzenfeld's 2015 documentary Oriented and the mediatized phenomena of Tel Aviv Pride and LGBTQ-friendly Birthright Trips, I explore how these narratives ultimately contribute towards shaping Tel Aviv as an exclusionary urban space, inaccessible to those subjects who do not comply or fit with a securitized and corporatized new normal. By using a critical approach to the city's founding discourse, and the more recent Israeli state's ethno-nationalist investments towards branding Tel Aviv as a queer city, I argue that non-(homo)normative members of the LGBTQ community, and especially Palestinians, are silenced and pushed further away from what is constructed as the queer subject in the 'White City' space.
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Keywords: Tel Aviv; non-normativity; pinkwashing; queerness; representation; subjectivity

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 0000000404779832 University of Bern

Publication date: September 1, 2019

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  • Queer Studies in Media & Popular Culture (QSMPC) is a refereed academic journal devoted to the study of representations and expressions of queerness in its various forms. International in scope and representing a wide variety of disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches, it publishes scholarship on topics at the intersection of media/popular culture and queerness in gender/sexuality. QSMPC invites articles and artwork pertaining to queerness in media and popular culture, as well as reviews pertaining to recently released queer media artifacts.
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