Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Children Of The Eurovision

Hello all,

Most days are boring. They’ve got their good bits and their bad bits, but the overall feeling at the end is yeah, that happened, onto the next one. Then there are the bad days, the days which the mere thought of can bring you down. But then, every so often, ever so rarely, there’s one day which makes all the others seem terrible because it could never be as good as that one. And, while that’s happening more and more often (hey boyfriend Finn!), my Saturday is the best day I can remember ever having.   To be fair, I don’t have a lot that I can compare to. When asked previously, I always used to say the day that I went on my own to see a stage show the school was putting on because it had the guy I had a crush on in it, which is where he talked to me for the first time. And then I got home and watched one of my favourite movies ever, Satoshi Kon’s Paprika, for the first time. I remember going to sleep that night feeling joyous because the two things were somehow connected (even though they weren’t). But ever since I started dating Finn, there have been more and more good days. And then there was Saturday.
    It was Eurovision weekend, the weekend I live for. It’s like Christmas and Birthday and Easter and the Grand Finale (for most other Australians) combined into this one gloriously camp weekend of ridiculous set pieces, wonderfully trashy pop songs and beautiful people. It doesn’t sound like much, but it means everything to me.
   After I came out to my parents, I decided to try and subtly introduce them to gay culture. I wanted something that didn’t particularly scream gay, but said I’m here and I’m queer. And somehow I got into my head that Eurovision was exactly what was needed. So, I got a copy of the 2009 contest and put it on over one weekend. This experience literally changed my life because of one man; a violin player named Alexander Rybak (who would eventually win that year by the highest score in Eurovision history, pictured on the left), who was the most romantic human being I’d ever seen. He was wearing this grey vest (later to become one of my favourite items of clothing) and singing this song about a romance that failed. And I am fairly sure I’ve never felt that attracted to someone before. And my parents noticed, particularly my mum. And this is the weird bit. We started comparing notes. Mum thought he was too young. I was like I don’t care, he’s fricken mine. This was the moment I realised that my parents had accepted my gay identity and it wasn’t going to be as much of a fight as the painful nature of my coming out had suggested (I’ll share that story one day, but not today). Ever since then, I’ve been not only obsessed with Alexander Rybak (I based the love interest in my novel off his appearance and his songs have informed how the character has been shaped when I was struggling to come up with ideas) and his fashion sense (those of you who’ve seen me in a grey vest, well that’s where it comes from. As well as that, there’s a mild obsession with tight-fitting white t-shirts and any violin playing), but Eurovision because it represents something far greater to me.
   Later in the year, we watched the 2011 competition, where I discovered another obsession with the incredibly sexy Eric Saade. And while I don’t remember as much about him with regards to my family, it was he that helped my coming out to one of my closest friends. My friend and I were messaging one another on Facebook, when I said, ‘I do hope I'm not depressing you. It's just I’m looking at these pictures of Eric Saade... He's really good looking.’ Apologies for me being super posh, but this was how I came out to my best friend. I wasn’t able to just say it, I needed something to get him to ask me and so I decided to be honest. Basically, I owe Eurovision A LOT. It has come to signify acceptance and freedom as well as helping me to distinguish who I found sexy.
   As this weekend was Eurovision, I was slightly concerned that if Finn and I were to go on a date then I would miss out on a night (I know that sounds selfish, but Eurovision is THE thing I look forward to every single year). However, my mum sorted this problem out for me. She was annoyed because I hadn’t introduced her to him yet mainly because despite what I earlier mentioned, there are numerous examples where she’s been more than a little homophobic. I put on Please Like Me once and there was this gay kissing scene and she was so disgusted, she had to walk out of the room. She’s also told me that I wouldn’t be allowed to be close to my boyfriend when we were in the house and she was looking. No holding hands, no kissing, no nothing. Which seems fine, but she wouldn’t have any problem with my (straight) brother doing the same things to his girlfriend around her, so I was frustrated. But mum just kept digging and I was like, fine, if you want to meet him, then I’ll arrange it. We can watch the second semi-final of Eurovision together.
   So, I met him and told him that my parents wanted to meet him. He was fine with it and said we’d be back at my house by 8 that night. That left several hours for us to just enjoy a date. And enjoy we did.
   First, we had a chocolate fondue at this place, where we did the typical couply thing of feeding each other chocolate covered strawberries. As usual, I failed. So badly. So, so badly. Still, we laughed so it wasn’t that bad. In fact, it was glorious. We finished eating and drove to the park. After he showed me some more of his music (he’s into metal and I’m into pop music. I have the worst taste in music. Have you seen my playlists?!), we decided to walk around, despite it being fairly cold. In order to fight this, we held hands.
    And this could just be my internalised homophobia, but I felt nervous. Not because he was holding my hand, but because what if someone saw us. I’ve read these horrible stories of people being attacked and it worries me. But it shouldn’t. I should be able to hold my boyfriend’s hand in public without the fear of harm. So, here we are walking together, when we see someone coming in the distance, someone walking their dog. And we go to separate hands, but then he just turns to me and says f*ck it, you’re my gorgeous boyfriend and I don’t care who knows. I held his hand tighter and we continued walking. Truly amazing.
   We went to the playground and played on the equipment, because two grown men swinging around on a flying fox is surprisingly romantic. Other stuff happened, but that’s mine. So we’ll skip ahead a little bit.
   About an hour later, we arrived at my parents’ house. We were running a little late, coming in shortly into the first act of Eurovision. My parents didn’t really say anything and I could tell he was nervous. But there’s a magic to Eurovision and as we watched, I saw my parents warming to him and he to my parents. There are two moments that spring to mind. The first came when my boyfriend and my mother compared notes as to who was the cuter boy in the Finnish entry. So surreal (not as surreal as actually having my boyfriend in my house, but still) and it brought to my mind the whole Rybak thing.
   However, a more interesting moment came when Conchita Wurst walked on stage. Now, my parents are fine (to a certain extent) with gay people. They can deal with that. But gender? Well, it’s an uphill battle. Watching RuPaul’s Drag Race with them is an unwise decision unless you want to hear derogatory things. So, then this bearded drag queen walks onto the stage and she’s beautiful and glorious and an immensely powerful singer. And I knew this wasn’t going to end well. My mum and dad were convinced she was a man, and kept referring to her as he (or it, in one particularly painful experience). I tried to correct them, but it didn’t really work. And I was growing ever more frustrated, when my boyfriend turns to my mum and says, ‘it doesn’t matter what she looks like, it’s what she identifies as.’ And from then on, they referred to her as she. Part of me was desperate to turn to him and hug him or kiss him or something to show my appreciation, but I didn’t want my parents to hate my boyfriend, so we just played footsies instead.
    Later, as the competition was finishing, I was growing ever more nervous because I was worried Austria (who Conchita was representing) wasn’t going to get into the grand finale. I get very invested in my favourite contestants and I was having this mini freak-out. And then she got in and I screamed. Loudly. And my boyfriend grabbed my arm, because we were both so happy she’d got in. And my parents didn’t see, because they were looking at the screen. It was this perfect moment, in a day filled with them.
   Later, he saw my messy bedroom but didn’t care and we stayed until 2.30 talking and other things, but again, some things are mine. I like to think of it as my way of keeping my mind on the… pulse.
   And I know it doesn’t sound like much. But that day was magical, because it was time I spent with someone who likes me. A lot. Like how every Monday I spend with Holmes and Lola is magical, because I go completely insane. There’s a lot to be said for treasuring those moments spent with those we hold closest, because those are the moments I truly feel like I’m being myself. There isn’t any other layer that I’m hiding. I’m just being ridiculous and camper than anything and I truly feel… free. And that is glorious.
   So, while most days are boring, there are those that are made magical by our friends and our family, because for once, anything seems possible. Like a bearded drag queen winning Eurovision, showing that it doesn’t matter what you look like, you should be able to express yourself in whatever way makes you feel comfortable, that it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. It was a victory for those who’ve felt the pain of being different and the frustration of trying to please everybody all the time. Because ultimately, it’s not up to anybody else. It’s your life and you have to live it in a way that you want to, because as Cathy from the life-changing Big C once said, “Life is so precious and it’s way too fucking short. So… Don’t delay the happy.” And that’s what I’ve tried to do. To live in the way that one day, when I look back on my life, I can remember that I was happy in those moments. And those were what made my life worthwhile. That is what being a Child of the Universe means to me and that is why the good days must always be treasured cause they’re diamonds, rare but so, so precious.
   So, in honour of Eurovision’s awesomeness, I’d like to give a few awards of my own, celebrating another year where this ridiculously camp show changed my life for the better.

Top 5 Songs
1.       Rise Like A Phoenix [Austria] (Conchita Wurst)
2.       Children Of The Universe [United Kingdom] (Molly)
3.       Undo [Sweden] (Sanna Nielsen)
4.       Silent Storm [Norway] (Carl Espen)
5.       Calm After The Storm [The Netherlands] (The Common Linnets)
Saddest Song
Silent Storm [Norway] (Carl Espen)
Happiest Song
Dancing In The Rain [Spain] (Ruth Lorenzo)
Catchiest Song
Cliché Love Song [Denmark] (Basim)
Most Serious Song
Running [Hungary] (Andras Kallay-Saunders)
Sexiest Act
The polish girls. Cause even as a gay man, that was seriously sexy.
Most Impressive Set Piece
Ukraine’s Man Hamster Wheel
Best Interval Act
Emmelie De Forrest’s performs the ridiculously good song ‘Rainmaker’. Which I’ve listened to 45 times since Sunday (compare that to Conchita’s song which I’ve heard 20 times)
Best Moment
Conchita Wurst’s acceptance speech
Most Frustrating Moment
The reaction to Conchita’s victory from Russia (those make me so angry)
Most Attractive Man
My boyfriend. But out of the contestants, the whistling lead singer from Switzerland performing ‘Hunter Of Stars’. Like Rybak, he wore a vest and played a string instrument (a fiddle in this case). Told you he was influential.

So, that was what I thought of Eurovision this year. Brilliant as always, and proving that society is changing for the better. Conchita’s victory means so much and that it came in the same weekend that I shared the most perfect day with my beautiful boyfriend, just means everything to me. Absolutely magical.
   Oh, and the picture of Conchita at the top is my own photo-manipulation. It’s just her imposed onto some flames and the Eurovision 2014 symbol. The text is something Finn sent me. The. Best. Boyfriend. Ever.

Things I Learnt While Dating #2
The simple act of breathing can be really frickin’ hot.*
*That is if you don’t forget and have to have your boyfriend remind you to cause he doesn’t want you dying on him.

Friends’ Blogs
Lola (The Blogging Of An Aspiring Writer)
Holmes (Life, The Universe And Everything According To A Writer)

The Playlist Of 7 May – 13 May
Wanted (Hunter Hayes)
She’s Like Heroine (System Of A Down)
Dangerous (Within Temptation)
Lonely Day (System Of A Down)
Follow Your Arrow (Kacey Musgraves)

The Top 2 Films Of 7 May – 13 May
Foxy Brown
*Because of dating, Eurovision and evil essays, I only viewed two films this week

David Gumball-Watson

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