Saturday, 16 May 2009

Welcome, Europe! (but not everyone...)

This year in Homophobic Russia: Nul Points...

Some people can't tell I'm gay, when they meet me. That suits me fine - I'm not an ambassador, and as a character from a television programme once said, "unless I'm f*cking you, it's none of your business." However, I am in no way ashamed of who I am, nor do I attempt to hide it. I'm just not an "obviously gay" man (what the hell is "obviously gay", anyway...?)

Nevertheless, there are five ways one can spot my sexuality. First is my obssession with my own image, teetering somwhere between vanity and self-loathing, I can't tell whether "I'd do me", or if I should see someone about those unsightly flaps. Second, I'm British, love the theatre and adore pretty much every member of the British acting establishment, about 80% of which is homosexual - only 40% of them are open about it, but trust me, I've been to industry functions and dinners, the British theatre is full of gays. Third, my Windows Media Player playlist is dominated by fat - and some thin - black women with loud voices, camp white women with little talent but plenty of dresses, The Pet Shop Boys and George Michael. Fourth, I sleep with men.

I also love - and I mean LOVE - the annual Eurovision Song Contest. Everything about it makes me tingle all over: the dreadful acts, the dodgy accents, the poor-quality and often nonsensical songs, and the Scandinavian countries. Oh, those poor Norwegians. Say what you like about Eurovision - and I often do after a couple of glasses of Dyonisian fruit juice - the experience is fun, frivolous and flappity-flap-flap frippery.

But something terribly bad has happened to Eurovision. It all started when it began to take itself too seriously. Around about the mid-nineties, the contest became less of a naff-fest and more a kind of pseudo propagandist attraction. As if winning the contest meant you could show the rest of the continent how great your country is. Then, the voting pattern changed. Admittedly, the voting system was always a little suspect, with the usual political and historical blocs fulfilling everyone's expectations (France and Belgium, Greece and Cyprus, Spain and Italy, Germany and Austria, etc), but they rarely ever got in the way of suspensfully wondering which god-awful song would come out on top. Recently, the scandal of '68 was revealed, proving that even military dictators were willing to muscle in on the proceedings: of course, the Spanish flatly refuse any wrongdoing, and La la la is probably the only instance of the modern generation's defence in favour of General Franco; but we all know Cliff was robbed... Nowadays, though, Western Europe might as well give up all hope of winning, since the vast bloc of Eastern Europe has hijacked the entire thing, to the point no-one believes anywhere betwen Iceland and Hungary stands a chance of coming in the top 25. Since 2001, five of the eight winners have been Eastern European countries. I've nothing against their winning, but it takes a little away from the suspense. The Cold War had nothing on this. It was enough to drive veteran commentator, Sir Terry Wogan to quit, last year!

Finally, the last insult to suck the fun out of Eurovision is the controversial action of this year's host, Russia. Gay activists have used the contest, notably popular with gays all over Europe and on one occasion won by an Israeli transsexual, as a stage for protest against Russia's disreputable human rights record. Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov has even called homosexuality "satanic"! As I write this, the news of the peaceful protest being broken up by armed riot police had hit the headlines, and plenty of anger has been stirred by the international gay community. Eurovision was always a little political, but this is ridiculous.

Furthermore, when one considers that the contest is an unofficial gay icon (what is an "official" gay icon? Something for another article, perhaps?), the thought of anti-gay support and oppression against LGBT fans of the contest is almost ludicrous. Almost.

As I pointed out earlier, the contest has been used over the past few years as a platform for countries willing to present themselves in a positive light. What kind of image does all of this furore create for Russia, an extremely important country, politically and historically? Will LGBT tourists consider Moscow as a destination, when gay marches are recieved like this? Russia may have a lot to think about, on this issue.

Nevertheless, I will be watching, and will probably engage in the typically British pastime of laughing at foreigners, before realising just how crappy my own nation's attempts at winning will be. This year, as with previous years, I will be supporting both the UK's and Spain's entries. Neither will win, though...

Further Reading: "'You're not safe in Moscow', gay Eurovision fans told ahead of march", The Guardian Online

Perhaps this should have been this year's logo...?

Post-Show Update!
Well, well, well: this year WAS a bag of surprises! The UK came in a respectable fifth place, the gala was fun and full of spectacle, Spain bummed out completely (coming in penultimate position) and traditional losers Norway won with a record number of votes! I'm sure their win had nothing to do with them having the cutest boy sing it. He actually composed and wrote the lyrics for the song, so talented and pretty. Enjoy...


  1. "Oh, those poor Norweigans..." Are you kicking yourself now? My, he was cute though, that Norweigan boy.

    Lord, I actually watched it alone, and sober. Ill-advised or what? Disappointly, there wasn't anything outrageously naff, and the only song I kind of liked was the Swedish popera number sung by the manic looking blonde bird. Malta wasn't bad either. I quite liked the sexy German and Greek boys too. Yum!

    It wasn't the same without Uncle Terry chuckling away at the painted mugs of Euroslags though, was it?

    As for Russia... well, everyone knows they're thoroughly medieval anyway. Just ask Georgia.

  2. The post's been updated, now, you tart!

    Bloody hell, ka-os, I never knew things were so desperate for you: alone AND sober?! Let's make sure this never happens again.

    I couldn't stand the Daz advert that was Sweden's entry! I much preferred Ukraine's Erotic Cabaret Circus. I agree with you on Malta, though they never win, poor things. And what about Albania! three half-made-up clowns and a man dressed entirely in green! Mad!

  3. I had no idea the Eurovision Song Contest was an unofficial gay icon. I always thought it was a show for people of questionable talent and poor taste, take Waterloo by Abba for example.

    ...Oh, I think I maybe proving your point and not mine. Let me get back to you on this.

  4. Dusty - What, exactly, has rendered you speechless?

    Curious - Haha! Your honor, I rest my case...