James Kirchick on LGBT and Israel

James Kirchick
Photo: Courtesy

James Kirchick is a world-renowned name, especially in LGBT media. The 2007 NLGJA Journalist of the Year winner has been known lately for criticizing Russia’s attitude towards LGBT people and this might be one of the topics he will discuss during the Global LGBT Leadership conference that begins today in Tel Aviv.

“I have been to Israel several times,” James says. “I have tried to come about once a year for the last 10 years or so. As someone who writes about international affairs, I am keenly interested in hearing what Israelis think of the pending deal between the major world powers and Iran over its nuclear program, and the state of the bilateral relationship between Israel and the United States.”

Kirchick is known for using his voice and status as a well-respected journalist for advocating LGBT rights. In 2013 he was famously kicked off Russia’s RT news network for protesting anti-gay laws after refusing to talk about Bradley Manning and instead spoke about the Russian government’s anti-gay laws. “I received and continue to receive many positive comments from Russians — gay and straight — about my protest against the Putin regime’s anti-gay campaign,” he says. “Having not lived in an authoritarian country, it is very difficult for me to give advice to people who live under one. The most I can tell them is that there are people around the world who are thinking about them and working hard to put pressure on the regimes that violate their rights.”

On Thursday, during the LGBT leadership conference in Tel Aviv, Kirchick will join Gal Uchovsky and other media personalities to talk about the intersection of Israel and LGBT Issues: Politics, Culture and Pinkwashing. “For some people, Israel can never do right,” he says, “and so the country’s relatively stellar gay rights record presents a serious problem to their narrative. Thus the phenomenon of “pinkwashing.” Most of the people who accuse Israel of doing this have bad intentions and are being deliberately dishonest; others who fall for it are simply not thinking enough.”

What do you think of the role of the media in the legalization of LGBT equality worldwide?

“The media has an important role to play in issues relating to LGBT people, most important of which is reporting fairly and honestly — which does not mean always positively — about LGBT people and their lives. For most of history, gay people were portrayed as criminals, sick, perverted, etc. and the media was as responsible for these uniformly negative portrayals as was anyone else. “

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.