I am currently in Israel with my family, visiting cousins and spending quality time with my parents and brother for the most part, but also enjoying queer life in Tel Aviv. Upon arriving in Tel Aviv, I began to search for queer events to attend, and was very happy to find Rogatka, a collective, volunteer-run space that has been in existence for over two years here in Tel Aviv. Rogatka is a small space that resembles a black box theater with a raised stage, folding chairs, a projector, a small bar area, and many friendly Israeli queer folks. They host a weekly brunch on Saturday mornings which is family friendly (i.e. I can invite my parents) as well as frequent performances, lectures, and film screenings. During my two weeks here in Tel Aviv there are five or six different events happening at the space, including a drag show, a workshop on blogging for the transgender community, a punk show, and of course the weekly vegan brunches.
One interesting aspect of the space is that they have become a frequent venue for straight punk shows, which has led to some outreach to a community that has not been particularly aware of queer issues before Rogatka opened. There is a large sign on the front door in Hebrew and English explaining that Rogatka is a safe space where there is no tolerance for hate speech. It goes on to specifically identity homophobic and transphobic language, as well as uninvited touching, as unacceptable. I heard from one queer collective member that she has seen many straight punks read the sign with a puzzled look on their faces, which she interpreted as their first encounter with such concepts. This has been a great opportunity for the Rogatka community to affect change in larger Israeli society through their use as a venue for non-queer shows.
There are currently 11 members of the collective, which is able to afford the space through selling alcohol at their events and by charging very low admissions for shows and for the Saturday brunches - usually around $5. The organizers and event attendees are incredibly friendly, and my partner and I were immediately invited to dinner at someone’s house, offered a ride back from the space after the event, and I was even asked to perform at an upcoming show. One of my favorite things about being queer, much like being Jewish, is the immediate sense of community that you have when you meet other folks who share your identity. I am not particularly interested in going to bars, which can often be the only place to find queer communities, so I am so excited that Rogatka exists, and that I was able to attend a workshop and meet people interested in art and politics rather than at a bar.
For more information about Rogatka, click here to visit them on Facebook.