From Lesbian Radicalism to Trans-Masculine Innovation: The Queer Place of Jerusalem in Israeli LGBT Geographies (1979-2007)

  • Iris Rachamimov Department of General History, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel
Keywords: Queer Jerusalem, Lesbian Radicalism, Transgender History, Drag Kings, Trans Men, Center and Periphery, History from Below


Standard narratives of Israeli LGBT history treat Jerusalem as a foil to Tel Aviv. Jerusalem represents religiosity, nationalism and strife whereas Tel Aviv is seen as secular, global and tolerant to divergent sexual and gender expression. Notwithstanding, two influential forces in Israeli LGBT activism had their roots in Jerusalem: The Community of Lesbian Feminists (CLaF) which was active between 1987-2007 and was the longest-lasting statewide lesbian organization that ever existed in the country. The second significant force was the emergence in Jerusalem in the years 2004-2007 of a trans-masculine group, whose performances, posters and camaraderie laid the groundwork to Israeli trans organized advocacy. This article argues that it is not a coincidence that these groupings emerged in Jerusalem. The combination of a heightened political awareness and a pronounced sense of fragility resulted in different LGBT communal configurations than those prevalent in Tel Aviv. This article is based on thirteen interviews with activists and on published and unpublished personal memoirs, flyers and documents.


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