A Night Out With Old Jewish Men
I’ve now been to a few of these “gathering places” (more accurately, “clubs”) and in most, there is no shortage of alcohol, drugs, and sexual acts. In one place, the men were gathered in an open floor plan with enough food, drink and activities to feed a family of seven for a week. In another, it’s so packed you can’t even see the bar from where you are standing.
These places are frequented by men who are either gay, or at least attracted to men. And they are mostly in their 60s or older, who have come to be surrounded by men — as if they’re a lost tribe. And they’re still there, even after they have left those clubs, and they’ve probably passed on.
I think of these men as “old Jewish men”, but in fact they are really old (and still in the minority) gay Arab men, with roots in the Middle East and North Africa. They have been to Europe, to the United States, to the Middle East. They have also been to Israel.
Their experiences all lead them to live in the West, and at times, they have had the good fortune to find a home in Israel or the West Bank. When they were young, they were brought up in Arab villages in the Middle East, and then they were brought to a new country called Israel. Now they are “old” (which means they’ve lived here a long time) and they are in search of a sense of belonging, as if they were lost in a land far from home.
I’ve been reading about this and I’m sure it makes sense. But I’ve learned to recognize their stories.
I’ve also been meeting them when they come to visit New York; they visit Israel. And we get to know each other in a good way; I don’t know how it is in Israel. I like talking to these men and hearing from them about their experiences. As the old women in their family and the boys and girls at the parties tell me, these men are from so