In 2020, almost one million Norwegians viewed Melodi Grand Prix, and the music competition annually engages large parts of the population when we cheer on Norway's contribution to
In 2020, almost one million Norwegians viewed Melodi Grand Prix, and the music competition annually engages large parts of the population when we cheer on Norway’s contribution to the European final in Eurovision Song Contest. The competition has given us monster hits such as “Waterloo”, “Euphoria” and our very own “Fairytale” which won in 2009, and there are few who can not sing along to Olsen Brothers legendary “Fly On The Wings of Love”! The Eurovision Song Contest attracts close to 200 million viewers each year, and is very popular far beyond Europe’s borders, not least among queer communities across large parts of the world. The rainbow flag is for many synonymous with the music competition, and its popularity among gay men was clear from the cheers when Sweden’s Eurovision host, Petra Mede, spoke directly to all “dancing queens” among the audience in 2016.
Eurovision has also several times contributed to the start of debates about queer rights and living conditions in the wake of the competition. In 2018, China was denied by the EBU – the European Broadcasting Union to show the final when they censored rainbow flags in the semifinals, and there were loud protests against Russia’s musical contribution after the country’s introduction of the anti-homopropaganda law. The year after the Austrian drag artist Conchita Wurst won, Hungary withdrew from the competition, and it is speculated whether it was the competition’s close links to the queer environment that were decisive for the decision. In his victory speech, Wurst himself had a clear message for Russian President Vladimir Putin – “We are unstoppable”.
What is it that makes this European music competition draw full houses in the continent’s queer nightclubs? Can this be categorized as queer culture? Can we call it a homopolitical project?
Will the Eurovision Song Contest become a common language for Europe’s queer people, who both unite and strengthen us in our common struggle for rights? Or is the Eurovision Song Contest nothing more or less than what we see; a lavish music competition with varying quality wrapped in glitter, pyro and crackling costumes?
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