After 66 years of high camp and brazen queerness, you might think there is not much left for performers to do at the Eurovision Song Contest that hasn't already been done before.
Two queer milestones have already been marked this week, even in the lead-up to Saturday's 2022 Eurovision Grand Final in Turin, Italy. On Tuesday, when the Icelandic trio Systur learned that they had made it through the first semifinals, they proudly waved the transgender flag alongside that of their country's.
Then at the second semifinal on Thursday San Marino singer Achille Lauro planted the first mid-Eurovision performance male-male kiss squarely on his guitarist's lips.
And that is nothing to speak of the wacky stage gimmickry that is the hallmark of Eurovision, which this year has already featured unexpected firsts like monk-supervised handwashing Serbia donning wolf masks Norway and riding a mechanical bull, San Marino From Israel s Dana International to Austria s Conchita Wurst to the Netherlands Duncan Laurence, LGBTQ performers have been warmly welcomed at Eurovision. A record five acts in the grandfFinal last year consisted of fully or in part of outqueer performers - including winners M neskin from Italy, bisexual member Victoria De Angelis and sexually free member Ethan Torchio.
The Eurovision Grand Finals will feature two out queer acts - Iceland s aforementioned Systur and Australia s Sheldon Riley - and performances from several other contestants will telegraph strong endorsements of queer sexuality.
The extravaganza will feature two beloved out gay stars, singer Mika, who will be live from Turin as an onsite host for the global audience, and Olympian turned NBC commentator Johnny Weir, who will emcee the exclusive American feed of the broadcast on Peacock. NBC News and Peacock are owned by Comcast-NBCUniversal. Systur will be a first to join the Eurovision Grand Finals on Saturday, as a group that counts both a lesbian and a transgender child among its members. The band of sisters has been staunch advocates for the rights of trans children in their home country.
I didn't realize until my child came out as a trans person that not everyone is open to that, because I accepted it and was happy that my child broke free from the chains he had been living under, Sigga Ey rsd ttir told Australia's JOYEurovision podcast. I realized how many trans children and trans people are suffering from not being able to express their gender, and that broke my heart.
She said that she got in touch with the trans community in Iceland and asked, How can I be your voice? They said, Just tell your parents to do what you did: Accept your children and love them unconditionally. Systur's folk ballad Eurovision entry, Me h kkandi s l With the Rising Sun, is an ode to the promise of the sun's warmth and light overcoming the cold darkness of winter.
The lyrics of Australian contestant Sheldon Riley's song, Not the Same, also celebrate light shining through a broken darkness and have resonated so strongly with some LGBTQ fans that the song is being hailed as a gay anthem.
Riley told the Netherlands OUTtv that I never really set out for it to be an anthem. For me, it was just a song I wrote when I was 15.
He explained that I was diagnosed with Asperger's at 6 but grew up in a very religious and reserved family. The idea of being gay and being all of those things that Eurovision is so proud of is not acceptable for me, it was just this thing that was constantly prayed over. We pray that Sheldon will be a real man, and we pray that Sheldon won't be gay, straight, will have a wife, will have kids. We ll just keep praying to fix something about you.