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Drag Queens & Dancers Party Through Tel Aviv for Annual Gay Pride Parade

Israelis dance during a beach party following the annual Gay Pride Parade in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, June 10, 2011. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

TEL AVIV, Israel (The Blaze/AP) -- Drag queens, dancers and shirtless men are partying through central Tel Aviv as thousands pack the streets for the city's annual gay pride parade.

Israel's homosexual community celebrated the city's 14th annual parade Friday. Colorful floats with scantily-dressed revelers drove through the streets as thousands cheered, waved flags and gyrated to loud music.

YNetNews has more about the festivities:

Annual Tel Aviv Gay Pride Parade kicked off on Friday in the city's Gan Meir park. Tens of thousands of people are participating in the festive procession, which will make its way through Bugrashov, Ben Yehuda and Arlozorov Streets before reaching Gordon Beach.

Mayor Ron Huldai, American Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro and other politicians and public figures participated in the parade, which marks the end of a week-long festival dedicated to the LGBT community.

Shapiro, who wore a shirt with a rainbow flag, which has become the symbol of the gay community, told Ynet that the US supports the rights of LGBT community members in Israel and around the world.

Tel Aviv is one of the few places in the Middle East where gays feel free to walk hand-in-hand and kiss in public.

Gays serve openly in Israel's military. The parliament and Supreme Court have granted gays a variety of family rights, such as inheritance and survivor's benefits.

Earlier this year, Tel Aviv was picked by readers of the travel website Gaycities as the top gay destination, ahead of Amsterdam and San Francisco.

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