Slav Leibin, who immigrated to Israel from Russia at the age of 4, is one of the volunteers in The Rainbow Tours initiative of IGY, which shows tourists and visitors around the LGBT history of Tel Aviv. To Slav it’s ironic that this unique way of fundraising started as an idea after he showed his German boyfriend (now fiancé) around town when the couple first moved in to live together.
“I came out at a relatively later age,” says 29-year-old Slav, a Russian immigrant who stands in the middle of IGY’s latest initiative:Tel Aviv Rainbow Tours. “I came out to myself during my senior year at Jerusalem University, and then I went to work for the Jewish Agency as an emissary in the U.S. for two years, during which I completed the coming out process and told my friends and family.”
Slav says that he never got to tell his father about being gay. “Coming from a Russian family, I was really afraid of telling my parents, and the actual conversation that eventually happened two years ago was indeed hard. My mom was panicked-I’m an only child-and was afraid to tell my father because of his fragile health. My father passed away a few months ago and that was how it remained between us.”
In the U.S. Slav met his fiance, and when they moved back to Israel and his boyfriend started asking about the history of the LGBT community in Tel Aviv, the idea of an LGBT tour that tells the story of the community started to come about. “The world of guidance has become something very central in my life and close to my heart,” Slav explains. “I used to guide at the Knesset and when I worked with the Jewish Agency. I had this vague idea [about LGBT tours in Tel Aviv] when I came back from the U.S. and I thought about what I could do. My partner is not Israeli and he always used to ask me questions about the community. I didn’t know how to answer, and then I heard from a friend who works at the Tel Aviv city hall that there’s a demand from tourists for a tour that tells the story of the community.”
Another friend of Slav told him about a new entrepreneurship group at IGY that was formed as part of the fundraising of the organization, and Slav put the two together. “I decided to launch this project as part of the initiative at IGY. Other friends have joined me and helped in other aspects of logistics, advertisement and cooperation.”
Slav shows visitors around LGBT Tel Aviv
Today, besides his current job in a Tel Aviv company that teaches effective communication and speaking in front of an audience, Slav is also on good terms with his mother. “It took her time, but in her process she even visited me in the U.S. and met my boyfriend there.”
IGY is welcoming tourists arriving in Tel Aviv with RainbowTourTLV, a 2-hour tour introducing LGBT history and prominent community locations in the city. For more details click here