Contemporary Southeastern Europe
Research Articles

Skirting the issue: finding queer and geopolitical belonging at the Eurovision Song Contest

  • Jessica Carniel
This article examines how the ideological boundaries of East and West are built, maintained and challenged through the performance of sexual and other politics in the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC). It argues that the contest is a useful prism through which to examine and understand contemporary European debates about sexual politics, and the role that this plays in defining the borders of modern Europe and its conditions of belonging. The contest itself offers an important site for belonging to the European community both to states on the eastern margins and to queer communities throughout Europe. It examines examples of performances that have challenged sexual politics, such as the Finnish entry from 2013, as well as state responses to the queer dimensions of the contest, such as those from Russia and Azerbaijan. It concludes that different states may challenge the ESC rules on political gestures depending on their own status within the European community as well as the extent to which that gesture challenges or reaffirms “European” ideology.