May 19, 2013
The Big, Gay Eurovision Review
Eurovision: traditionally, the gayest spectacle in the history of mankind. With its sequins, sparkles and over-enthusiastic pop it generally attracts more homosexuals, pound for pound, than a Kylie Minogue gig at Via Fossa.
And Eurovision 2013 was certainly no exception. We only had to wait until the third act before the first entertaining example raised its head: the Moldova backing dancers. Clad all in white, they truly were the epitome of camp as they gyrated happily behind the solo female singer, a woman wearing, where her skirt should have been, what I can only describe as an illuminated tea cosy.
A few acts later came Romania. As if the fact that the singer looking like a strange cross between Dracula and Ming the Merciless wasn’t enough, the dancing essentially consisted of what appeared to be three naked blokes (a closer peek revealed flesh-coloured shorts) enjoying a bit of rough and tumble. They were overlooked by the aforementioned vampire / Flash Gordon baddie singing in high-pitched tones of which Katherine Jenkins would be proud. ‘Bizarre’ doesn’t quite seem to cover it.
By the time we reached Ireland’s offering, complete with greased-up, leather-clad drummers, nobody in their right mind could do anything but declare the whole thing to be a big, beautiful gay-fest. With commentary provided, for us Brits at least, by the fantastically sharp-witted Graham Norton. Glorious.
But of course by far the gayest, and indeed most controversial entry, were Finland, with the most upbeat slice of camp Europop ever created, “Marry Me”. Clearly the audience were adoring it as they jumped about, patriotically waving flags and generally loving life. Basically, a feel-good moment for all. Or was it? As it turns out, it most certainly was not.
Apparently Turkey, those Eurovision killjoys, decided against televising this year’s show on the basis that Finland’s gift to the world of poppy, sing-along joy finished with two women kissing. They had already announced, in December 2012, that they would not be entering an act into the 2013 competition because they disagreed with rules that allow the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy to participate in the Grand Final without having to attend any qualification rounds. So, at the risk of sounding even more mature, they then advertise their blatant, disgraceful homophobia to the world. Way to go, Turkey; way to go.
Of course, as much as hundreds of die-hard fans love the spectacle of it all, Eurovision isn’t really about the music; really, it’s all political. I mean, let’s face it, if it were judged as a music contest, the show would have ended ages ago.
Hope for the future
With LGBT rights so high on the political agenda of many countries, it’s no surprise that this was reflected in this year’s Eurovision. It is of course sad that one of the big news items was one country’s refusal to televise the show because of a lesbian kiss. But then, in some ways, even that can be turned into a positive. The vitriol and rage with which that particular decision was met on Twitter, for example, far outweighed the number of people who felt that they could see Turkey’s point. At work, I even ended up having a discussion about the unfortunate situation with some of my students and all of them, without any prompting from me, were outraged. Their sheer anger that a country could behave like that “in this day and age” warmed my heart.
And it’s this kind of shared feeling that makes changes. A whole group of people who all desire to make a change to the way the world works is a powerful tool. Of course, there is a lot of suffering in the world. Nearly every other day I sign a petition, usually prompted by communications from organisations like AllOut or Stonewall, in an attempt to try to change situations in countries where citizens are put to death because they are gay, and horrific incidents like that aren’t going to stop overnight.
But, even during supposedly light-hearted events like Eurovision, there are glimmers of hope. Good on Sweden, this year’s host nation, for example, for being so proud of their country’s policies on gender equality and gay marriage that they included them in a song designed to ‘sell’ their nation to the rest of the continent; you, my Scandinavian friends, are heroes of Europe.
Moments like this, combined with the uproar created whenever a country like Turkey behaves in such a bigoted manner, give us all hope for a better future for the LGBT community the world over.
I’d like to leave you with the words of Graham Norton, as he rounded-up his introduction to Finland’s Eurovision entry: “At the end of this song there are 2 girls kissing. And if 2 girls kissing offends you, then you need to grow up.”
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