LGBTIQ+ artists at Eurovision 2021
Today is The International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia also known as, IDAHOBIT.
Progress among the LGBTIQ+ community over the years has come from activists, campaigners and role models standing up for and being visible in the world.
Eurovision in many ways has often been a beacon of hope.
From transgender performer Dana International winning the contest in 1998, to Conchita Wurst's famous victory in 2014 and current champion Duncan Laurence getting engaged to his same-sex partner last year, the Contest has always been about visibility.
So who shines rainbow bright in our class of Eurovision 2021? Le'ts take a look:
Lesley Roy - Ireland
Lesley is returning to the Contest this year after being one of the artists impacted by the cancellation.
Lesley has been married for well over a decade to her American wife Lauren. The couple usually reside in New York but have been living in Ireland over the past year with Lesley telling Dublin Live “Once the song was finished, one of the things Lauren, my wife, and I discussed was that it made sense to move home. in the lead up to Eurovision.
She told the Irish Mirror about the support she receives from her: "My wife Lauren, every day, she’ll make me laugh. She’ll make me cry and then she’ll make me laugh again."
In a letter she penned to her 16-year-old self for kiss.ie she said,
"You are slowly realizing that you are not necessarily ‘like all the other girls’ in school and you have created a fake persona to hide your truth. You have so many great friends and you get along with almost everyone but you are living behind a mask of music and humour to hide your insecurities about being gay. I wish I could tell you that soon it will make sense, you will be able to tell everyone your story and truth, just hang on in there a few more years."
Lesley will compete in semi-final 1 with the song 'Maps'.
Jeangu Macrooy - The Netherlands
27-year-old Jeangu was born and raised in the South American nation of Suriname. He moved to The Netherlands aged 20 to study and now lives there permanently with his partner Sebas.
Jeangu has a twin brother Xillan who is also gay. Xillan said they came out to each other the same night and was a little disappointed as a twin he still didn't have something of his own, saying "I wrote it down on a note and put it in your (Jeangu's) room, because I thought you were sleeping. But two minutes later you said, ‘oh me too!’ And I just didn’t know how to deal with that."
The brothers have the support of their mother and family but Jeangu has spoken about wanting to help progress in his native Suriname saying “I want to show them that its okay to be yourself, and if I can in any way help them through my music, I will.”
As the artist for the host nation, Jeangu goes directly through to the Grand Final with his song 'Birth of a New Age'.
Jendrik Sigwart - Germany
26-year-old Jendrik is is representing with his song 'I Don't Feel Hate'. As the song suggests, it's a powerful message of dealing with homophobia and other discrimination with positivity. The video features different forms of hate including homophobia, body shaming and religious discrimination. Jendrik told ESC Bubble that:
“There’s two different types of hate. For example, there’s the shallow hate, saying ‘Oh your song sucks and your hair looks weird’, and then you can say, ‘Ah I don’t care about that!’. There’s the other kind of hate, the disrespectful hate, the hurtful hate. Which is homophobia, which is racism, which is sexism, which is a religious hate. All those different kinds which I am trying to put into the music video and the stories. And there, I say, you should not ignore it. You should not laugh about it, you should act upon it."
The music video features colours of the rainbow flag. Jendrik has been with his boyfriend Jan for four years and the pair live together in Hamburg.
As a member of the Big 5 nations, Germany goes straight through to the Grand Final.
Vasil Garvanliev - North Macedonia
Vasil was born and raised in North Macedonia before he and his family emigrated to the United States as a teenager. We went on to live in Canada, Italy and the UK before returning back to North Macedonia.
Despite being out to close friends and family, the 36-year-old singer only recently came out, one of the only high profile people in his nation to do so. He told Attitude magazine, "My gut said this is the right moment to share everything about myself - to literally break down all my walls and give you me as I am - which happens to be the most uninteresting thing about me, the fact that I am gay."
Before going on to say, "Every time I came back home to the Balkans, to Macedonia, you feel this need to put on a mask. I sympathise so much with everybody here that lives in fear of judgement, discrimination, injustice, bullying...As artists we have a responsibility to speak truth – especially if I’ve tasted freedom, which I have."
Vasil came under controversy in March when his official Eurovision video unintentionally featured the flag of Bulgaria, upsetting many Macedonians. A change.org petition was set up to stop him competing with many posts featuring homophobic comments. Thankfully the broadcaster did not back down and he will represent his nation in Rotterdam.
Vasil will perform 'Here I Stand' in semi-final 1.
Montaigne - Australia
Montaigne, aka Jessica Cerro, is Australia's representative at Eurovision 2021. She won the national selection show 'Australia Decides' in 2020 but couldn't compete last year due to the Contest's cancellation. The Australian delegation selected her for 2021 and she brings her upbeat hyper-pop song 'Technicolour' to Eurovision.
Montaigne has identified as both queer and as bisexual, and during the SBS coverage of Sydney Mardi Gras she told Courtney Act that "I identify as bi, but I could be attracted to someone who isn't in one of the binaries (of gender). What comes with the sexuality is an attitude of openess to the world."
You can find out more about IDAHOBIT Day at https://www.idahobit.org.au/
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