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I’m Yoav Schlezinger and originally I’m from Israel, grew up in Tel Aviv.
Most Israelis, when they finish the Army at 21, they go and travel and experiment with a lot of drugs and for months they just go with a backpack and travel South America or Asia. And I just moved to the U.S. and started school but in the U.S. for me that was the first point I actually realized and came to conclusion and agreement with myself that I’m gay. And for me, that was my exploration, that was my ‘getting crazy’ time because up until then I got used to giving attention to females.
I remember my first night when I went out to a gay bar, it was in Chicago, it was while this show, Real World Chicago was on MTV at the time. And there was a gay guy there on the show, Chris I think was his name. And they showed him going to this area called ‘Boys Town’ in Chicago which is the gay area. And I was watching this show every week and I got very curious and one night I got really drunk and was hanging out with some friends at a straight bar, I got really bored too, and I knew exactly what trains to take, I knew exactly what stop to get off, and I said hey guys, I told them I’m gonna go home, I’m done, I’m tired, and then I went to the train. I went to Boys Town. And I went to my first bar which was ‘Spin’.
It was January or February because I had this big sweater on and all the gays were in tank tops, even when it was like 10 degrees out and I had this big sweater on. And I’m sitting in the bar and I have a beer and I look around and I’m like, “Wait, so everyone here is gay? Really?” I was so oblivious. And then people started talking to me a little bit, drinking more beer and stuff, and they were like “Come dance with us!” and I said okay. I was a little tipsy. So I went back and I had a tank top on underneath my big sweater, so they took off my sweater and I was dancing with a tank top and everybody was touching and grabbing and I was just living in the dream. I was like, “What the hell?” I was missing this whole time.
And I went home, I didn’t hook up with anyone, I just danced with those people and went home and I remember getting into my bed and laying on my back and just having the biggest smile on my face and I was like, “Wow… This is me.” This is the moment that you really feel like you belong and it’s like, wow. It was amazing.