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LGBT Activists Tried to Hijack Polina Gagarina's Flawless Eurovision Performance. They Failed.

Why should Polina Gagarina, simply because she is Russian, be forced to make political statements? I'm for full equality, but politics has no place in Eurovision. 

This post first appeared on Russia Insider

Polina Gagarina blew the audience away last night in Vienna with Russia’s entry to this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.

Gagarina gave a stunning and flawless performance of the song ‘A Million Voices’, earning her a well-deserved place in Saturday’s final — and yet it wasn’t enough to avoid having her night be hijacked by LGBT activism.

<figcaption>Polina Gagarina - A Million Voices</figcaption>
Polina Gagarina - A Million Voices

This need to obsessively link anything Russian to LGBT rights is tiresome — and I say that as someone who supports full and equal treatment for all.

Overlooking Gagarina’s performance entirely, BuzzFeed picked up on the fact that the camera crews zoomed in on a handful of pride flags while she was singing. The moment with the flags lasted probably less than one second, but BuzzFeed is right: It was a clear political statement from the ESC to Russia.

But it didn’t stop there. Gagarina was then asked by a Turkish journalist about LGBT rights in Russia during the press conference following the show. This is not only inappropriate, it is unfair.
Gagarina, although visibly a little put out by the question, handled it well, seemingly implying support for LGBT people:

"I just can say that my song is really about love and it’s really about that we are speaking — everybody is speaking one language, language of love. It’s no difference about who you are. We are people and we can make bridges in a moment. I saw it today. It was amazing."

But why should she alone, simply because she is Russian, be forced to make political statements during the Eurovision?

Looking at the list of countries performing last night, I’m hardly struck by their brilliant records on gay rights. As I suggested to Scott Bryan, the author of BuzzFeed’s post about the pride flags, maybe during the second semi-final on Thursday, they could whip up a quick article on LGBT rights in Armenia. Or maybe Romania. Or Azerbaijan. Or Macedonia.
Likewise, maybe the camera crews could find an opportune moment during one of those performances to make a political statement. Unlikely, because as is often the case, things are a little different when it comes to Russia.

Last year, Russia’s entrants, the Tolmachevy sisters, were booed repeatedly and loudly during the contest over the crisis in Ukraine, as if that was anything to do with them.

In fact, so bad was the booing last year, that the organizers of this year's event had to install ‘anti-booing technology’ in anticipation that Gagarina too would be booed, according to The Moscow Times.

Either the technology — which dulls the sound of booing — worked, or Gagarina made it through without any boos. Given the undeniable strength of her performance, the latter is more likely.

This year the contest’s theme is ‘Building Bridges’ ...and ‘A Million Voices’ with its lyrics "Praying for peace and healing, I hope we can start again" is a perfect fit.

The Eurovision is not exactly of earth-shattering importance, but Europe should put politics aside this time and vote for Gagarina. There’s no doubt it was a winning performance.

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