Israel: First Gay Character in Children’s Show

“I wanted to say thank you for playing this character,” “I wait for every new episode just to see your scenes” – LGBT children already respond to Israel’s first ever coming out story on a Children’s Channel’s hit TV show. But not all the responses are supportive.

Amit Rahav plays the role of Aviv, who came out as gay in front of his whole school during this week’s episode

Not sure if this comes as a surprise or not, but for the entire 27 years of the Israeli Children’s Channel’s (Arutz Hayeladim) existence, with all series written and created by it – there had always been characters of the beautiful one and the athletic one, the genius geek and the child who deals with body image issues. There was even a child with hemophilia. But there was never a gay character, not yet.

Aviad Kissos, co-creator of the new TV series “Flashback”, is publicly gay and felt the need to change the situation. He found himself, on the way, in a cameo role as himself, consulting – a role that he knows very well.

“You need courage to be the first one who does this and I’m very happy that the Children’s Channel had this courage. I love them for it,” Aviad told Channel 10’s “Good Evening” show.

This is not a series about gays, but about young people – the classic high school series. It also has the athletes and the cool kids, and those who are less cool. What’s statistically more natural is that among them, like in every class – even if you choose to ignore it – there’s someone who is being denigrated on matters of sexuality. Amit Rahav plays Aviv, the school newspaper’s reporter, the first gay character in a children’s series – and in the eyes of Kissos this is nonetheless a social mission.

“When I was a kid there were no representations like this. I looked for it excessively, I remember,” says Aviad. “What I could find back then was that as a boy, if I would take the bus once a month to Tel Aviv, I could find a newspaper called Ha’ir, where there was a column by a person named Gal Uchovsky, who writes about himself being gay.”

“Later, when I turned 19, 20, there was already a TV show called ‘Florentine’ that suddenly showed a kiss between two men,” Kissos continues. “For me it was like someone had turned on all the lights in the house, at once.”

The episode of Aviv’s coming out in front of the school was aired this week on the channel. Amit is already getting comments: “I wanted to say thank you for playing this character,” wrote a female viewer who experiences a similar internal conflict. “In my daily life it’s very difficult to cope with things when there’s no one on your side … it’s amazing to see a gay character in the series … I just wanted to say thank you, and let you see how it affects and helps children.” Another boy, who feels similarly, wrote: “I have no words to describe the situation I am in now. I wait for every new episode just to see your scenes.”

“In my time, twenty years ago, even if there were other LGBT kids at school, they hadn’t come out,” says Kissos, “so if I were to really confess why I became terrified at night, it’s because I thought I was the only gay person on earth.”

But there were also different kinds of reactions, in life and in the series. In 2016 there are still people who are embarrassed by the thought and the confrontation. “Shame on the Children’s Channel that shows such a thing to children and encourages them to be like this,” wrote one viewer. Aviad Kissos has a clear answer to that, too: “To show this on TV is the kind of thing that might provoke surprise and anger among parents who view it,” he says, “but I think it’s psychotic to think that people can control the sexuality of their children through a TV series.”