Israeli pop star Harel Skaat comes to UMass

By Stephen Margelony-Lajoie

Israel pop star Harel Skaat visited the University of Massachusetts’ Hillel House Oct. 28 to lead a discussion about the LGBT life in Israel and about being an openly gay celebrity.

Stephen Margelony-Lajoie/Collegian

The singer started an open dialogue with the audience, discussing in general the current condition of LGBT life rights, such as the lack of legal recognition of same-sex couples in Israel and other parts of the world.

“If you look back 10 years, we’ve come a long way. We still have a long way to go, but I’m patient,” Skaat said during the discussion.

Skaat also talked about his own coming out to the public and its impact on his career.

“It didn’t change my career,” Skaat said in an interview. “Maybe for the better, but it didn’t do any harm. People believe in you more because you’re very free. You’re very open and I think that the reason why I wanted to wait to come out was because I wanted the public to see me as a singer, a person and then as a gay man.”

The Israeli pop star also talked with students about issues that they face in their own communities and on campus in the United States. Topics stretched from media effects on those who identify as LGBT to giving advice to any youth who might be questioning their sexual identity.

“My message to anyone who’s gay is that they should focus on his or her own journey and not let anyone interfere with it. You’re the one who has to live with yourself for the rest of your life,” Skaat told the attendees.

Harel Skaat ended his discussion with a free performance at the Hillel House, performing songs from his past three albums and a cover of Adele’s “Someone Like You.”

Skaat’s visit to the UMass was sponsored by the Consolate General of Israel to New England’s “Out in Israel” campaign, which was co-sponsored by the Boston LGBT Film Festival, Combined Jewish Philanthropies, Israel Campus Roundtable, Keshet and Tel Aviv Gay Vibe.

Idan Teram, UMass’ Hillel Israel Fellow and the Hillel House hosted the event, which is part of Teram’s efforts to “bring more artists and cultural activities that show what Israel has to offer,” Teram said in an email statement.

Stephen Margelony-Lajoie can be reached at [email protected]