Eurovision Song Contest is back with high camp, offbeat shenanigans and queer milestones

Eurovision Song Contest is back with high camp, offbeat shenanigans and queer milestones

After 66 years of camping and unabashed weirdness, you might think there’s not much left for artists to do in the Eurovision Song Contest that hasn’t already been done before.

You would be wrong.

Even before the Eurovision 2022 Grand Final on Saturday in Turin, Italy, two queer milestones have already been set this week. On Tuesday, when Icelandic trio Systur learned that they had passed the first semi-final, they waved proudly transgender flag next to your country.

Then, in the second semifinal on Thursday, San Marino singer Achille Lauro gave his first male kiss in the middle of Eurovision directly on his guitarist’s lips.

Achille Lauro and Boss Doms of San Marino
Achille Lauro and Boss Doms of San Marino kiss Thursday.Filippo Alfero / Getty Images

And that’s nothing to talk about for the wacky stage trick that is the hallmark of Eurovision, which this year has already featured unexpected novelties like washing your hands supervised by monks (Serbia), wearing wolf masks (Norway) and riding a mechanical bull. (again, San Marino).

From Dana International of Israel to Conchita Wurst of Austria and Duncan Laurence of the Netherlands, LGBTQ artists have always been warmly welcomed at Eurovision. Last year, a record five acts at the grandfFinal consisted entirely or in part of queer performers – including winners Måneskin from Italy, with bisexual member Victoria De Angelis and “sexually free” member Ethan Torchio.

This year’s Eurovision Grand Final on Saturday will feature two queer performers – the aforementioned Systur from Iceland and Sheldon Riley from Australia – and performances by several other contestants will telegraph strong endorsements of queer sexuality.

Subwoolfer performs Tuesday on behalf of Norway.Marco Bertorello / AFP – Getty Images

Also presenting the extravaganza will be two beloved gay stars: singer Mika, who will be live from Turin as the on-site presenter to a global audience, and Olympian-turned-NBC commentator Johnny Weir, who will host the exclusive American feed of transmission in Peacock. (NBC News and Peacock are owned by Comcast-NBCUniversal.)

Systur will mark another Eurovision grand final on Saturday as a group that counts a lesbian and the mother of a transgender child among its members. The group of sisters have been staunch advocates for trans children in their home country.

“I didn’t realize until my son came out as a trans individual that not everyone is open to it, because I accepted it and was really happy that my son was able to break free from the chains he lived under.” Sigga Eyþórsdóttir told the JOYEurovision podcast from Australia. “I realized how many trans kids and trans individuals are suffering from not being able to express their gender, and it really broke my heart.

She added: “I contacted the trans community in Iceland and asked, ‘How can I be your voice?’ And they said, ‘Just tell the parents to do what you did: accept your children and love them unconditionally.’

Systur members
Iceland’s Systur members holding the transgender flag as they arrive for the opening ceremony of the Eurovision Song contest on Sunday. Marco Bertorello / AFP – Getty Images

Systur’s Eurovision entry folk ballad, “Með hækkandi sól” (“With the Rising Sun”), is an ode to the promise of warmth and sunlight overcoming the cold darkness of winter.

The lyrics of Australian contestant Sheldon Riley’s song “Not the Same” also celebrate light shining through broken darkness – and have resonated so strongly with some LGBTQ fans that the song is being hailed as a gay anthem.

“I never wanted it to be an anthem,” Riley told OUTtv from Holland. “For me, it was just a song I wrote when I was 15.

“I was diagnosed with Asperger’s at age 6, but I also grew up in a very religious and reserved family,” he explained. “So the idea of ​​being gay and being all these things that Eurovision is so proud to be was not acceptable to me, it was just this thing that was constantly prayed for. “We pray that Sheldon is a real man; we pray that Sheldon is not gay, is straight, has a wife, has children. Let’s keep praying constantly to fix something in you.’”

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