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Tel Aviv Pride, the California connection

A high-profile California contingent contributed to the size and impact of the week-long LGBT Pride Celebration in Tel Aviv last week, with Los Angeles leaders joining Bay Area collegues in staging events aimed at strengthening the standing of Israel’s gay community.

“Five years ago, pride here was a ‘nice’ event,” said Joel Simkhai, Israeli-born, West Hollywood-based founder and CEO of the international mobile gay meet-up app, Grindr.

“But it has grown exponentially. Now Tel Aviv is an international gay destination, with more Europeans, Americans and people who aren’t Jewish visiting Israel for the first time to participate” in the celebration, Simkhai said.

When Simkhai discovered that Jared Fliesler and Geoff Lewis, two friends from the Bay Area venture capital world, were also heading to Tel Aviv Pride, he decided to organize a LGBT Tech meet-up to give young Israeli entrepreneurs a forum in which to network and learn from American collegues.

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