The Eurovision Song Contest is back with big camp, wacky antics and queer milestones

The Eurovision Song Contest is back with big camp, wacky antics and queer milestones

After 66 years of high camp and unabashed queerness, you might think there isn’t much left for artists to do at the Eurovision Song Contest that hasn’t been done before.

You would be wrong.

Even in the run-up to Saturday’s Eurovision 2022 Grand Final in Turin, Italy, two strange milestones have already been marked this week. On Tuesday, when the Icelandic trio Systur learned that they had made it through the first semi-final, they proudly waved the transgender flag next to your country.

Then, in the second semi-final on Thursday, San Marino singer Achille Lauro planted the first male-male kiss in mid-Eurovision right on the lips of his guitarist.

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

And that’s nothing to talk about the wacky stage tricks that are the hallmark of Eurovision, which this year has already featured unexpected firsts like monk-supervised handwashing (Serbia), donning wolf masks (Norway) and riding a bull. mechanic (again, San Marino).

From Israel’s Dana International to Austria’s Conchita Wurst and Duncan Laurence from the Netherlands, LGBTQ artists have always been warmly welcomed at Eurovision. Last year, a record five acts at the grandfFinal were made up wholly or partially by our queer artists, including winners Måneskin from Italy, featuring bisexual member Victoria De Angelis and “sexually free” member Ethan Torchio.

This year’s Eurovision Grand Final on Saturday will feature two queer acts, the aforementioned Systur from Iceland and Australian Sheldon Riley, and the performances of several other contestants will telegraph a strong endorsement of queer sexuality.

subwoofer
Subwoolfer performs on Tuesday representing Norway.Marco Bertorello / AFP – Getty Images

Hosting the extravaganza will also be two beloved gay stars: singer Mika, who will be live from Turin as an on-site presenter for the global audience, and Olympian turned NBC commentator Johnny Weir, who will be the master of ceremonies of the American exclusive broadcast of the broadcast. in peacock. (NBC News and Peacock are owned by Comcast-NBCUniversal.)

Systur will mark another big Eurovision final on Saturday, as a group that counts both a lesbian and the mother of a transgender child among its members. The band of sisters has been a strong advocate for trans children in their home country.

“Until my son came out as transgender, I didn’t realize that not everyone is open to that, because I accepted it and was actually happy that my son was able to break free from the chains he had been living under.” . Sigga Eyþórsdóttir told Australia’s JOYEurovision podcast. “I realized how many trans children and trans people suffer from not being able to express their gender, and that really broke my heart.

He added: “I reached out to 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.'”

Members of Systur
Members of Iceland’s Systur hold the transgender flag as they arrive at the opening ceremony of the Eurovision Song Contest on Sunday. Marco Bertorello / AFP – Getty Images

Systur’s popular ballad Eurovision entry, “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 to Australian contestant Sheldon Riley’s song “Not the Same” also celebrate the 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 really set out for it to be an anthem,” Riley told Holland’s OUTtv. “For me, it was just a song that I wrote when I was 15 years old.

“I was first diagnosed with Asperger’s when I was 6 years old, but I also grew up in a very religious and reserved family,” she explained. “So the idea of ​​being gay and being all those things that Eurovision is so proud of being was not acceptable to me, it was just this that I constantly prayed for. ‘We pray that Sheldon is a real man; we pray that Sheldon is not gay, he is straight, he has a wife, he has children. We will continue to pray constantly to fix something about you.’”

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