Yanir Dekel

It’s Not Easy Being Israel’s Gay Sweetheart


Out celebrity host Assi Azar appears on the cover of Time Out Tel Aviv this week alongside his co-hosting partner Dafna Lustig, in a new morning show on Radio Tel Aviv 102FM

Azar, dubbed ‘professional gay sweetheart of the state,’ has recently moved with Dafna from an evening show on the radio to a new prime-time radio spot in the morning, in a format close to “On the Air with Ryan Seacrest,” and vowing not to dwell on politic discussions. “There’s something very fun in escapism,” Azar tells Time Out. “This show was born out of laughs. When we get into politics it’s flammable, and I say things on a subject that I don’t really understand.”

Though Azar describes himself as one who doesn’t understand politics, he’s expressed himself publicly against politicians who acted against the LGBT community, such as MK Stav Shafir and Education Minister Shai Piron. “It’s not hard for me to say that I dislike Stav,” Assi told Time Out. “In both cases, I was rather annoyed with myself for speaking this publicly. If there’s one thing I really don’t like, it’s seeing people from the entertainment industry rumble about their political views, so why do it myself? I used to do it in the past because I wanted journalists to like me, I wanted them to say ‘this kid is smart, he has something to say,’ but enough, I’m not there anymore.”

Assi’s TV image in Israel is of “the gay best friend,” a guy who’s fun and cute and funny and goofy. But he says that sometimes this image limits him, especially in his real life, not in front of the camera. “In reality I’m a complicated person, like any other person, and there are moments where I’m angry, and not cute,” he says. “I’m also very shy, I don’t know how to conduct conversations. So when I meet people on the street I’m actually in a panic, but they see me as snob.”

Also in the article, Assi reveales that he is playing with the thought of leaving Israel, but is too scared to actually do it. “I enjoy thinking about it,” he says. “I see how my boyfriend, Albert, who’s European, sees Europe. People there move to London, to Paris, they look at Europe as if it’s one big country and it’s easier for them to move from one place to another. With us, in our infrastructure, we’re so connected to the land, and the more blood spilled here the deeper our roots become. If you move out of the country you are considered a failure, as someone who gave up, so I’m trying not to live in these notions. I’m still a young man who wants to live and make the best of it. I’d like to inspect this world and see what it has to offer.”

About the Author
Yanir Dekel has a decade of experience in entertainment, journalism, and digital media in Israel and the U.S. He headed PR for Helicon Records - one of the top two Record Labels in Israel - for several years before moving to LA in April of 2009. Yanir now works as an "Online Outreach" and content administration freelancer, managing content and social media, as well as providing graphics for online and print.