‘The Israeli army is hard. You cannot make any decisions yourself, it is aggressive and macho. I constantly felt I had to prove my manhood. I had to act like a man, a “real man”. My superiors told me to be tough and not to express any emotions. I learned to be ashamed of my sensitive side, which I hid. I didn’t connect with anyone and had no friends. A few months after I entered the army, I began having nightmares and sunk into a deep depression.

As soon as I was released, I left Israel. After some time in Australia, I went to Berlin. It didn’t take me long to decide this would be my new home. Back in Israel, I constantly felt people wanted to screw me over. Here in Berlin, it’s the opposite. People really seem to care about each other.

I love Boxhagener Platz in my neighbourhood Friedrichshain. In the summer, the square is packed and the streets are filled with arts and culture. When you are by yourself, you can always join a group, no one will reject you. You can be whoever you are, and people love that here, especially when it makes them smile.

Image: Elvin Boer

I am not shy to wear one of my girlfriends’ clothes. Sometimes at festivals outside the city, I wear dresses or coats or tops. Often, I paint my nails in different colours. Many people think I’m gay, which to me is a big compliment. I am only attracted to women, but I wish I were gay or bisexual. In general, queer men are braver about being open and vulnerable; I think they can teach me a lot.

Last year there was a big Alternative für Deutschland-demonstration here, which was very disturbing. Berlin clubs are very political, and so we organised a huge collective counter protest: 72,000 people showed up, there was techno everywhere, and tons of drag and naked people and love.

‘I am not shy to wear one of my girlfriends’ clothes. Sometimes at festivals outside the city I wear dresses or coats or tops’

I am part of Section 8: a collective where people from all over the world make music together. With my bearded Syrian and Iranian friends, we try to counter the bullshit that is in the media. Every time we make music together, or when we dance or eat or talk, we realise how much we have in common. You can find extremists in every country and every religion, but most of the folks I know here love to meet and connect with people from different cultures.

Although this is home, I do feel Israeli. I think I needed Berlin to regain pride in my Israeliness. There are many of us here and we make a lot of noise. We have survived a lot and know how to cope with challenges. We always take it one step further.’

Image: Elvin Boer