Shushan, the only gay and lesbian bar in Jerusalem, decided to close its doors this week after serving for four years as a place where drag queens, Palestinians, and Orthodox Jews intermingled, according to a story in The Times of London.
“Shushan was one of the few places where we could feel that we were in a free world,” Yan Carmel, a 21-year-old student at Hebrew University, told The Times.
Gays and lesbians in Jerusalem frequently face disapproval and violence. Last year, the city’s gay pride parade was moved to a stadium because police feared they could not protect marchers from attacks. The year before, an Orthodox man stabbed three people during a street procession.
The bar has been a target of violence as well. Two years ago it was severely damaged in an arson attack. No one was injured, and the attack helped the bar’s clientele become closer-knit, according to patrons.
Now Shushan’s customers are scrambling to find other bars.
“I’ve met three boyfriends there, and each time was magical,” Gil Naveh, a 24-year-old who performed in the club’s drag shows, told The Times. “There was the time I got proposed to outside Shushan, right in front of everyone.” (The Advocate)