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Gender Diaries: DOV

As the world continues to push against gender constructs, the conversation around how people are identifying themselves is constantly evolving. Each week, Milk will feature a guest editor writing about their specific relationship with gender and, often, where it intersects with fashion. This week, we feature Brooklyn-based queer pop artist DOV. Listen to his new single, “Save”, here

I imagine my experience growing up as a gay man in Israel wasn’t too different than that of most gay people in other parts of the Western world. Despite the country’s constant turmoil with its identity – unsure whether it’s modern or not – it is fairly liberal. Being gay in Israel is no longer a big deal, especially in the area where I grew up, 20 minutes south of Tel Aviv, the country’s most populous and accepting town.

Sure, I was still the high school’s “fag,” but in our community I’m almost certain that’s just the norm. I was never shy about showing my true self and that came at a price that I was willing to pay. My family and friends never took issue with my affinity for male genitalia, however when I moved to NY almost a decade ago, I began realizing that there is more to being gay than the pragmatic definition of the word.

When put in comparison, NY made me realize that Israel had only allowed me to skim the surface. There was more to me as a queer person that I was finally ready to explore. Israel may be accepting of gays, but it isn’t accepting of different. The ongoing war in the Middle East conforms us to rigid masculinity. Women and men alike are required to serve in the military, a reality which results in an atmosphere so deeply hyper-militant in nature that men and women are almost always reduced into one – a man.

Brooklyn told me a story that is different. It presented to me with a concept of queerness that can mean different things. Being queer in Brooklyn to me means being able to dress up in colors. I can wear platform shoes, I can paint my nails, I can sing of freedom.

My debut single, “Save”, tells a story of feeling trapped in a square-shaped box on days that I felt like a circle. It is about leaving my past behind and adapting to my new surroundings, a process which I wanted to share with others like me. It is meant to share an experience of one, but by doing so hopes to relate to others. In hindsight I realize my story may not be that unique, but there was no one to tell it to me when I was 16 years old. When I needed to hear it the most.

Images courtesy of Tia Elias

Stay tuned to Milk for more Gender Diaries and see our previous installments here.  

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