FIRST PERSON: Falling in love with Eurovision's queer visibility

Friday, 12 May 2023 12:21 GMT

Lucy Middleton, Openly Deputy Editor, stands in front of signs advertising Eurovision by the M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool on May 11, 2023. Lucy Middleton/Handout via Thomson Reuters Foundation

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A visit to the rainbow-clad host city of Liverpool has finally turned me into a Eurovision convert, writes Openly Deputy Editor Lucy Middleton

By Lucy Middleton

LIVERPOOL, May 12 (Openly) - Growing up, I wouldn't have classed myself as a big Eurovision fan. I've never been to a Eurovision party, tuned in for the semi-finals or listened to any of the acts before the main event.

But within 48 hours of my arrival this week in Liverpool - home of Eurovision 2023 - I was a convert, yet another LGBTQ+ person who loves Eurovision.

How did this happen? Was I simply star struck after bumping into Finland's Käärijä – the bookies' choice to win this year – backstage at the EuroVillage?

It was partly the warm welcome rolled out by Liverpool's LGBTQ+ community as I toured the city's Pride Quarter with my notebook in search of quotes.

And it is hard not to be won over by Eurovision's most loyal queer fans, some of whom have been following the contest for more than a decade.

Fans from Serbia, Slovenia, Finland and France told me how much it had meant to see queer representation on their TVs when they were younger.

This year, young LGBTQ+ people have Gustaph, representing Belgium, whose unapologetically queer performance featured U.S. dancer PussCee, who vogued alongside him on stage.

After qualifying for the final, the singer became emotional during the after-show news conference when he was thanked for bringing ballroom culture to the Eurovision stage for the first time.

"I was a little bit scared while I was waiting for the results because there was still a little boy inside of me (saying) 'they will not accept this'," Gustaph said.

His words will resonate with queer people all over Europe, where violence against LGBTQ+ people has reached a decade-high, according to the ILGA-Europe rights group, even as queer visibility grows.

Gustaph will be joined in the final by Sweden's Loreen and Norway's Alessandra, both of whom openly identify as bisexual.

Other artists, such as France's La Zarra and Israel's Noa Kirel, have also shared how their performances were inspired by LGBTQ+ talent they admire.

Together, these artists make Eurovision the ultimate safe space for queer self-expression – something that has become even more tangible when walking the rainbow-draped streets of late-night Liverpool.

Related stories:

Cash rolls in as Liverpool's Pride Quarter goes Eurovision crazy

OPINION: Eurovision is more than glitz and camp – it’s a force for LGBTQ+ inclusion

Bisexual representation will win this year's Eurovision

(Reporting by Lucy Middleton; Hugo Greenhalgh. Please credit Openly, the LGBTQ+ news website from the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters. Visit

Openly is an initiative of the Thomson Reuters Foundation dedicated to impartial coverage of LGBT+ issues from around the world.

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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