More than 200 million people have been watching the Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday evening. And one of the faces they've been seeing most is that of Assi Azar, one of the four presenters of the gala, who appears in the image below, on the right, smiling.
"If you had told me when I was young I could be with my husband in Israel, with our marriage legally recognized, I would have said it was impossible." That's what Azar said in an interview with Attitude magazine. Fourteen years ago, in 2005, when he was presenting a children's TV show, he had just fallen in love with a boy and wanted to say so openly: "I didn't want to lie, I was a role model for many children." He did tell his family, and his parents told him to see a doctor. Fortunately, over time his father accepted him and even made an emotional speech when Assi got married, years later.
Married to whom? A Catalan architect, Albert Escolà. It was Azar himself who let this particular cat out of the bag in the Eurovision semi-final on Tuesday, when he spoke to Spanish contestant Miki Núñez, performing his song La Venda... and he mentioned that the presenter's husband was - just like Miki - from Catalonia. Escolà and Azar met seven years ago in Barcelona and eventually married and bought a house in Israel. Escolà soon saw that Tel Aviv was a very tolerant city, open to the gay community, and that Azar was a much appreciated figure in this land.
"In Spain they tell me things that they want from Israel, but as a gay man, I can tell you that here in Tel Aviv I can take a walk hand in hand with my husband, and I have an ID card that records that we are married," he told Spain's El Mundo newspaper in an interview.
A graduate of Barcelona's Pompeu Fabra university, Escolà has taken part in projects such as the Barça Museum, and after five years in Tel Aviv, he directs the company ESAI, dedicated to architecture, design and innovation. That's on the professional side; meanwhile, on the sentimental side, apart from the love he has for his husband Assi, Escolà also feels the colours of Catalonia. On September 24th, 2017, Escolà published a picture under a pro-independence estelada flag, with the message: "A beautiful day in my city. Chapter 3", accompanied by a series of hashtags # independence, # 1st October, #Catalonia and #WeWillVote
They have a firm intention to have children in the future, but for now, on Saturday, the eyes of both are on the Eurovision final. By the way, Escolà's husband, Azar, already a role model in his country, continues to strive to give visibility to the LGTBI community. In fact, he has already declared that part of his payment as a presenter of the Eurovision gala will go to the Israel Gay Youth organization.