Friday, 22 May 2015

Eurovision 60


If there’s one event in Europe that was created to encourage harmony which has created its fair share of disharmony then it has to be the Eurovision Song Contest.

The brainchild of the European Broadcasting Union (Eurovision) the 60th contest is being held this week. During the past 30 years, however, countries have often been accused of voting politically. This was seen most clearly after the break-up of Communist eastern Europe when former Soviet states tended to give the highest votes to other former Soviet states.

From its modest beginnings in 1956 the Eurovision Song Contest has now become something of a monster. I was a keen fan at one time, not so much these days. Acting like a kind of reverse mirror the lgbt (predominantly gay male) Eurovision fan-base has become more visible. In fact it’s got to a stage where the contest is regarded as a “gay-fest” in most of the countries where homophobia is common.

Lgbt Eurovision fans have always existed, just as they have with other forms of entertainment. Perhaps the year the community realised they could express their enthusiasm visibly was the success in 1998 of the contest’s first openly transgender winner, Dana International. Since then some participating nations have used any excuse to use contestants or songs to get on their homophobic, political soap box. The words of last year’s winner, Conchita, in her acceptance speech was a defiant statement  – “This night is dedicated to everyone who believes in a future of peace and freedom. You know who you are. We are unity. And we are unstoppable”. And I’m not the only person who demands that Conchita must sing the next Bond theme!

Conchita’s victory gives the perfect excuse to look at the other known lgbt participants of the Eurovision Song Contest. I was surprised to learn that the first of these was way back in 1959. Bob Benny competed for Belgium, and I’ll write more about him next week in my “Around the World in 80 Gays” article.

For the purposes of today’s article I’m listing the lead or backing singers who appeared on stage during the grand final (and the semi-finals that were introduced in 2004). I haven’t included members of the orchestra, presenters, designers, voting panels or production crew. Nor have I included singers who competed in the various national heats and finals. These could easily form a future article.

There have been 3 lgbt singers, all solo artists, who have won the contest outright, and another was a backing singer to another winner.

In the list below the singer’s name may also be followed by the name of the group or duo of which they were a part, or indicates for whom they were a backing singer. Other information is also given. There is no space to give the name of the host city or title of the song. In the final placings column the number indicates the position in the grand final, e.g. 6/11 means the performer finished 6th out 11 countries in the final. No final placing indicates the performer didn’t get pass the semi-final stage. 

Year
Eurovision Performer
Representing
Final
Place
1959
Bob Benny
Belgium
6/11
1961
Bob Benny
Belgium
=15/16
1968
Ronnie Tober
Netherlands
16/17
1973
Patrick Juvet
Switzerland
12/17
1976
Jürgen Marcus
Luxemburg
14/18
1979
Louis Hendrik Potgieter (Dschinghis Khan)
Germany
4/19
1986
Olav Klingen and
Jonny Nymoen
(Eurovision’s 1st drag act; backing act for Ketil Stokkan)
Norway
12/20
1988
Gerard Joling
(contest won that year by Celine Dion)
Netherlands
9/21
1989
Alex Panayi
(backing singer for Fani Polymeri & Yiannis Savvidakis)
Cyprus
11/22
1991
Alex Panayi
(backing singer for Elena Patroklou)
Cyprus
9/22
1992
Christer Björkman
Sweden
22/23
1994
Jan Werner Danielson (with Elisabeth Andreassen)
Norway
6/25
1995
Alex Panayi
Cyprus
9/23
1997
Paul Oscar
Iceland
20/25
1998
Dana International
(1st openly transgender entrant)
Israel
1/25
2000
Alex Panayi (Voice, with Christina Argyri)
Cyprus
21/24
2001
Michelle Courtens
Netherlands
18/23
2002
Gary Revel jr.
(backing singer for Laura Voutilainen)
Finland
20/24
2002
Srecko Blas (Sestre)
Slovenia
13/24
2002
Damjan Levec (Sestre)
Slovenia
13/24
2002
Tomaz Mihelic (Sestre)
Slovenia
13/24
2004
Jari Sillanpää
Finland
-
2004
Tomas Thordarsson
Denmark
-
2004
Deen
Bosnia
9/24
2005
Donna McCaul
(Donna and Joe, with brother Joseph)
Ireland
-
2005
Alex Panayi
(backing singer for Helena Paparizou)
Greece
1/24
2006
Brian Kennedy
(the 1,000th entry/song)
Ireland
10/24
2006
Andreas Lundstedt (six4one)
Switzerland
16/24
2006
Azis
(backing singer for Mariana Popova)
Bulgaria
-
2007
Ola Salo (The Ark)
Sweden
18/24
2007
Marija Seriforic
Serbia
1/24
2007
Peter Andersen (DQ)
(1st solo drag entrant)
Denmark
-
2009
Gordon Heukeroth (The Toppers)
Netherlands
-
2009
Alex Panayi
(backing singer for Sakis Rouvas)
Greece
7/25
2011
Duncan James (Blue)
UK
11/25
2011
Dana International
Israel
-
2012
Alex Panayi
(backing singer for Litesound)
Belarus
-
2013
Ryan Dolan
Ireland
26/26
2014
Conchita
Austria
1/26

 

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