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

Baker, Catherine

Authors

Dr Catherine Baker Catherine.Baker@hull.ac.uk
Research Coordinator for History and Senior Lecturer in 20th Century History

Abstract

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 ‘LGBT rights’ and ‘Europeanness’ equally constitute the understandings of ‘the international’ with which Queer IR is concerned. Building on Cynthia Weber’s reading the persona of the 2014 Eurovision winner Conchita Wurst with ‘queer intellectual curiosity’, this paper demonstrates that Eurovision shifted from, in the late 1990s, an emerging site of gay and trans visibility to, by 2008–14, 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 ‘LGBT’ politics in host states and the Eurovision region. The construction of spatio-temporal hierarchies around attitudes to LGBT rights, however, revealed exclusions that corroborate other critical arguments on the reconfiguration of national and European identities around ‘LGBT equality’.

Publication Date Mar 1, 2017
Journal European journal of international relations
Print ISSN 1354-0661
Electronic ISSN 1460-3713
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 23
Issue 1
Pages 97-121
Institution Citation Baker, C. (2017). The ‘Gay Olympics’? : the Eurovision Song Contest and the politics of LGBT/European belonging. European journal of international relations, 23(1), 97-121. https://doi.org/10.1177/1354066116633278
DOI https://doi.org/10.1177/1354066116633278
Keywords Eurovision Song Contest; Gay; Transgender; LGBT
Publisher URL http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1354066116633278

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