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BBC News’ James Longman on the reality of reporting from the Middle East as a gay man

By Will Stroude

Since joining the BBC as a reporter in 2012, James Longman has travelled the world to help tell some of the humanity’s most challenging stories.

The 30-year-old’s work as a Middle East specialist has seen him report on everything from European terror attacks to ISIS and the ongoing war in Syria, and as he poses for an exclusive new fitness shoot in Attitude’s April issue – available to download and in shops now – he reveals the reality of doing it all as a out and proud gay man.

“I did a story in Lebanon about a man who had been arrested by ISIS because he was gay and had been tortured,” James recalls. “It struck me that the one group of refugees – those who are fleeing the war in Syria, anyway – who really need a lot of attention, and my job as a journalist is to shed light on things, is the gay community.

“They are the one demographic which doesn’t have their own family to support them.”

Asked whether his sexuality ever makes him feel vulnerable as a journalist, James, who now reports for BBC Two’s Victoria Derbyshire Programme but is often based in the Middle Eastern city of Beirut, replies: “First of all, it’s a lot more open than people think – Lebanon especially is not a country which actively persecutes homosexuals.

“But it’s just not something I tend to think about because I’m dealing with life and death situations and it’s bigger than that.”

He continues: “I’m obviously not going to wander around in an unsafe space and be all like ‘hey’ and get on a dating app to find guys. But it’s one of the images people have about the Middle East which is a stereotype and that they probably need to think about a little more carefully.”

You can see James’s full shoot and interview in Attitude’s April issue, out now. To buy in print click here, or subscribe at To buy a digital copy, visit

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