The ‘gay Olympics’? The Eurovision Song Contest and the politics of LGBT/European belonging

Author (Person)
Series Title
Series Details Vol.23, No.1,March 2017, p97-121
Publication Date March 2017
ISSN 1354-0661
Content Type


The politics of gay and transgender visibility and representation at the Eurovision Song Contest, an annual televised popular music festival presented to viewers as a contest between European nations, show that processes of interest to Queer International Relations do not just involve states or even international institutions; national and transnational popular geopolitics over ‘lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights’ and ‘Europeanness’ equally constitute the understandings of ‘the international’ with which Queer International Relations is concerned. Building on Cynthia Weber’s reading the persona of the 2014 Eurovision winner Conchita Wurst with ‘queer intellectual curiosity’, this article demonstrates that Eurovision shifted from, in the late 1990s, an emerging site of gay and trans visibility to, by 2008–2014, part of a larger discursive circuit taking in international mega-events like the Olympics, international human-rights advocacy, Europe–Russia relations and the politics of state homophobia and transphobia.

Contest organisers thus had to take positions — ranging from detachment to celebration — about ‘lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender’ politics in host states and the Eurovision region. The construction of spatio-temporal hierarchies around attitudes to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, however, revealed exclusions that corroborate other critical arguments on the reconfiguration of national and European identities around ‘lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality’.

Source Link
Subject Categories
Countries / Regions