Eurovision – Against Russia’s Drag Ban

Pete Simpson

It’s a week to go until the biggest music night in a gay man’s calendar. Get those Iceland vol-au-vents, bag of frozen sausage rolls out and chink your cheap glass of bucks fizz because it’s the 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest. This year Copenhagen hosts the competition after winning with Emmelie De Forest. You may recall she was the one who was so busy tweeting, she had to be hurried back on stage to sing the winning ditty, ‘Only Teardrops’ one more time.

Over recent years the UK has resurrected several acts with the hope to win, not least with last year’s blast from the past entry, Bonnie Tyler. With winners from the last two years being young solo females, 2014 sees us changing tact, no more veteran chart toppers for us. Ladies and gentleman, please welcome Molly Smitten-Downes. She’s supported artists including Jake Bugg and Tinie Tempah and won the Best Urban/Pop Act at the Live and Unsigned music competition in 2012. Selected from BBC Introducing, Smitten-Downes is a 26 year old singer songwriter from Leicestershire.

You may remember that tall Swedish DJ who got naked on Big Brother a few years back, yes of course you remember, Basshunter. Well you’ll also remember (maybe) his chart topping hit ‘I will learn to love again’. Our young entrant featured on vocals, now there’s a claim to fame. The bookies have got her as 14/1 and all is set for the UK to have our best chance for a long while with the song, ‘Children of the Universe’. Although with lines such as “Power to the People” and “Put an end to all this suffering before it gets too late” you may be forgiven in thinking a declaration of peace is being made, and she may not be the only one.

Austria is also changing tact this year in a plea for a more political statement. Drag artist Conchita Wurst, whose real name is Tom Neuwirth, will be representing Austria with a ballad ‘Rise Like a Phoenix’. Russians have suggested having such an entrant is promoting sodomy and goes against all that Russians stand for. Petitions have been launched in Ukraine, Russia and Belarus, calling for the entry to be disqualified, or edited out of the broadcast in their country.

Wurst’s motto which he wants to spread across Europe is “be the best version of yourself, rather than a bad copy of someone else”. He also stands for tolerance and artistic freedom around the world. Unfortunately it seems even in 2014 such ideals are just too modern for some parts of the continent we should be so proud to belong.

Eurovision is no stranger to being progressive in sexual and gender terms, as transgender Israeli Dana International won in 1998 with ‘Diva’. We’ve all danced to that on a Saturday night at any pride festival right? Then, last year, Finnish contestant Kristia Siegfrids kissed a female dancer during ‘Marry Me’ in tongue-in-cheek protest at her country’s ban on gay marriage.

Despite Russia’s strict laws in place prohibiting so called “gay propaganda” I for one want every other country that cares about mankind, love and equality to vote for the 25 year old drag act, and Russia’s block on just Austria won’t stop the message of tolerance reaching the whole European community.

The 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest live from Denmark airs on BBC One, Saturday 10 May.

About Pete Simpson

Pete is a 20 year old (and some) guy who describes himself as a social entrepreneur. He is an LGBT charity trustee and was voted best dressed male 2004 at sixth form college. Often found with a beer, in Birmingham, London or Milton Keynes. Twitter @cardboardcakes