The Eurovision Song Contest is Gay Christmas. Let’s face it. It’s campy, it’s cheesy. It’s bright and colourful and fun…and it’s SO political! This year, perhaps more than most because a clear message has been sent out to countries that oppose LGBT rights and love wins at Eurovision!
So, before we get to the political stuff, here’s a list of reasons that love has won this year’s Contest in Lisbon:
1. Ryan O’Shaughnessy “Together”
Irish competitor, Ryan O’ Shaughnessy brings a beautiful song about a relationship gone wrong. While the gender of the couple isn’t made explicit in the lyrics, it is on stage with a same-sex couple. It’s a gorgeous song with a powerful message conveyed through the dancers. This is one to watch out for and could be a dark horse in the competition. It’s also something we’ll come back to later when things get political.
2. Saara Aalto “Monsters”
The former X-Factor favourite, performing for Finland, recently came out as Lesbian and is happily engaged. While only recently having come out, Saara admits she has known who she is for a very long time and has been lucky enough to have never found it a problem. She is an absolute icon and her song, Monsters is a message about “Living life as you want, finding your strength, being brave as who you are and not being afraid to show it.”
3. Netta “Toy”
Israel’s entry is bright and crazy and camp! It’s all about empowerment. Netta, who won an OUTtv award for winning an LGBT fan vote, says when she sings it, “[she] thinks about bullying and all the people who try to bring you down because they’re afraid of you.”
Does that sound familiar? As LGBT people, this is all too common for us.
Netta also speaks very highly of the LGBT people in her life:
“You hold me up. My whole team – my hair, my makeup, my costume, the writers of the song – are members of the gay community and I am lost without them. I’m grateful for the presence of the gay community in my life.”
4. Jessika ft. Jenifer Brening “Who We Are”
Sadly this song didn’t make it to the finals and was left hanging at the second semi-final. Again, it’s all about bullying and has spoken to the Eurovision audience, a majority of whom are LGBT. Like we established earlier, it is Gay Christmas
It’s a shame the song didn’t go further because the message was strong and San Marino only got to apply through help of crowdfunding. It’s a little gem that deserved more love.
5. Christabelle “Taboo”
Again, another that didn’t quite hit the mark! Christabelle lost out on a place in the final with her song for Malta. Named, Taboo, Christabelle sang:
“Let our guards down. It’s time to break the taboo. Before we become animals, animals. Echoes in my head, got to break the taboo. No we will never be criminals, criminals.”
The song was not ever confirmed to be about LGBT people but the lyrics allude to it quite strongly. This song should have gone far but sadly failed to progress. It will, however, go down as one of the greats that never quite made it to the final.
The video features some strong imagery that is reminiscent of a certain period in history and a particular political group, which parallels to modern day atrocities like the gay purge in Chechnya (something we’ll come back to soon)
6. Mikolas Josef “Lie to Me”
While the song has absolutely no LGBT themes it has shocked audiences by being quite explicit in its content. How can any self-respecting gay not appreciate this spectacle?
Mikolas is pretty hot. Don’t “Lie to me” and say he isn’t.
This Is Where It Gets Political.
Politics is always a HUGE part of Eurovision and alliances between specific countries always play out practically the same every year. Last year we had the surprise of the UK actually doing better than usual thanks to the pity votes after Brexit. At least we made it into that left column last year after expecting to receive nil points and come last!
This year, however, the political drama has really upped a notch.
Firstly, while not competitors, China still get to watch Eurovision. It’s shown on Mango TV, a popular Chinese Channel. However, during the first semi-final they censored tattoos, rainbow flags in the audience and completely cut Ryan O’Shaughnessy’s song “Together” because of the two male dancers. This was all because Chinese authorities are beginning to take a Russian approach to LGBT media on the internet and on television. They restricted the posting of LGBT information on social media and online and have banned LGBT people from being shown on TV.
The Albanian entry was cut too because of the singer’s tattoos thanks to the Chinese authorities’ decision to restrict the broadcast of “subculture elements” which tattoos apparently falls under. It’s absolutely ridiculous.
The tables were turned during the second semi-final though, when the UK’s Eurovision host Rylan was talking to Ryan O’Shaughnessy about the subject and broke the news that the EBU had cancelled the contract with Mango TV.
The statement released from the EBU is as follows:
“On the 9th May, Chinese Broadcaster Mango TV broadcast the first Semi-Final of the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest live but two performances were censored. This is not in line with the EBU’s values of universality and inclusivity and our proud tradition of celebrating diversity through music. It is with regret that we will therefore immediately be terminating our partnership with the broadcaster and they will not be permitted to broadcast the second Semi-Final or the Grand Final.”
That told them.
But that’s not all!
Let’s talk about Russia!
It is illegal to be gay in Russia. The Russian government has banned “homosexual propaganda.” So that’s anything that talks about LGBT life. Any information. Anything that might help or advise young people coming to terms with their sexuality. Anything. That’s writing, TV, film, internet.
They have groups like “The Movement Against the Propaganda of Sexual Perversions” and many others who ensnare innocent victims on dating apps and lure them to locations where they proceed to torture, humiliate and sometimes even kill them. They often film and post these on the internet or send them to the victim’s families. The things they do are brutally violent. shaving hair, sexual assault with broken bottles, cutting them, forcing them to drink urine and that’s just the mild stuff.
In Chechnya, a “gay purge,” led by Head of Chechnyan Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov has seen hundreds of gay people arrested and tortured in prisons. Some were released only to be murdered by their own relatives and others were killed by their own families before they could be imprisoned. This has been going on for a whole year and while some people have been lucky enough to escape, the purge continues with more LGBT people going missing daily. Even a high profile celebrity. The Russian government denies any and all knowledge of such activity. Kadyrov denied everything too, stating, quite ominously:
“You cannot detain and persecute people who simply do not exist in the republic. If there were such people in Chechnya, the law-enforcement wouldn’t need to have anything to do with them because their relatives would send them somewhere from which there is no returning.”
The whole scenario is very chilling. You can read more about what it’s like, from a survivor here.
Back to Eurovision, Russia have been persistent and have come back each year without fail for the last 20 years! They have qualified every year since 1998, which, coincidentally was another HUGE year for LGBT representation when Israeli Trans icon, Dana International, won with her song, Diva!
The last few years in particular, since Russia’s ban on homosexual propaganda in 2013, they’ve come on and we boo and we hiss,or we turn over and then come back when they’ve buggered off. Often Russia’s performance is marked as “toilet break time” because we know just how bad they treat LGBT people over there and we don’t want to give them the time of day. It’s something that has caused a fair bit of controversy.
It will never quite make sense why Russia are so obsessed with Eurovision but hate LGBT people so vehemently. Still, amid their “homosexual propaganda” bans and their hate crimes rising, Russia have still been staples of the competition. Russia missed their performance last year for “political reasons” when the contest was held in Ukraine. Their entry, Julia Samoylova, was left feeling sad that she never got her chance to shine.
However, Julia’s chance came this year! She had her moment. The song was awful and the dress was a rip-off of the Estonian entry we saw in Semi-Final One. Despite being from the country that we despise, I’ll give her credit for going out there and giving it her all and proving that having a disability doesn’t have to stop people achieving their dreams. Maybe that’s too kind but it’s true.
At the end of Semi-Final Two, the results came in and Russia was eliminated from the competition. This is an absolute first since the Semi-Finals were implemented. It’s ironic that another year where we have such strong LGBT imagery/icons in the competition being the year that Russia are kicked out by popular vote.
It means that people are standing up and making their voices heard. China’s vile actions were not tolerated and Russia’s crimes have not gone unnoticed and they will not be forgiven. Still, while we can be angry at the country, we can’t forget that there are people over there, our fellow LGBT brothers and sisters, who urgently need our support, solidarity and any help we can give. Keep awareness up. Don’t let it go. Love wins at Eurovision. It’s up to us to make sure that love wins everywhere else.
What are your thoughts on the finalists for Eurovision? Were you shocked that Russia didn’t make it through? Let us know on Twitter!