Finding that Eurovision 2023 non-binary joy in 2024

Eurovision at home in 2023 felt special. 2024 broke that, but the past few days have given me hope. How? Why?

Finding that Eurovision 2023 non-binary joy in 2024

Elevating queer joy

The above photo perfectly sums up my Eurovision experience. The stage is lit with trans flag colours and a Ukrainian singer performs to Liverpool. Eurovision 2023 was a special time.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve struggled with whether to show any support for Eurovision. On my professional Instagram, I started posting photos from Liverpool in 2023, but as the news in Gaza worsened I felt like I couldn’t continue. However people told me I was showing support for what Liverpool and Ukraine created. That was reason enough to continue. Looking back at those photos, I teared up. A year ago people came together to help Ukraine and make something wondrous. It was the best of Eurovision, Liverpool, and Ukraine and it felt like the future. For 10 days Liverpool was the future. No crime. No hate on the streets. Joy and acceptance were everywhere. I wore a sparkly dress on 3 different days without any issues. The UK’s 2018 entrant, SuRie, sang ‘This is Me’ from The Greatest Showman at an event I photographed.

When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown ’em out
I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I’m meant to be, this is me
Look out ’cause here I come
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum
I’m not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me

That song was my Eurovision experience and it felt like she was singing it to me, to the queer people in the room, to the city, to everyone. For 3 minutes a stranger took my fears, turned them completely upside down and gave me power.

Afterwards, when I asked for a selfie, she said she’d seen me all night and I looked incredible. Me! She’s the headline act and she’s saying that to me! It meant so much to me and I was riding a high for weeks. I play that song every time I wear a skirt to go out into a city.

Yet, on Friday I felt depressed. What we made last year, was gone. That simple idea of being “United by music” was so fragile it broke. I broke. Why was there another war in the world? Why wasn’t Russia backing down? Why were more trans rights being eroded? Did we go back to the office on Monday after Eurovision, say how nice it was and then get back to fear and hate? Why didn’t that united feeling endure? I was so upset at the world.

Out of nowhere, well it was a coronal mass ejection (CME), something magical happened. The sky lit up and all over the world people curiously lifted their heads and looked up in wonder. A G5-level geomagnetic storm created an aurora borealis, seemingly everywhere. Every social network lit up with images. Every conversation was about this event. I chatted to strangers on the beach who had seen something on Facebook and came out because they were curious. The sight of so many people looking up to the sky restored my mood. Maybe we can come together? Maybe curiosity in that which we don’t understand can unite us.

Saturday evening arrived. I chose to watch the show because I hoped it could be something that united us once more. Irish entry Bambie Thug was the first non-binary artist of the night. For the first time in Eurovision history, there were non-binary entrants. Bambie Thug was amazing to watch. Strong witchy power combined with the end reveal of a trans dress. Incredible. In their final moment, a giant sign appeared behind them saying “Crown the witch.” A subversion of the old saying of “drown the witch” from when people used to drown women for standing up to the patriarchy. I loved their performance.

An hour or so later the second non-binary artist performed. For Switzerland, Nemo with the song “The Code”. This was my choice to win. The song was a discussion of how they discovered their non-binaryness, a song that spoke to me. Not only was the song my lived experience, but they wore a pink skirt on stage. I wear pink skirts! I saw myself represented. It reminded me of the joy from last year, feeling connected to people through shared lived experiences. So much queer joy. I was nearly in tears watching them perform. So happy to see them there.

Somewhere between the O’s and ones
That’s where I found my kingdom come
My heart beats like a drum

It me!

A non-binary person in green DM boots with yellow laces, Ukraine coloured fishnet tights and a pink skirt. They have a green knitted jumper on, black denim jacket with a "They/them" patch. They have a purple beard with green lipstick on, shades and a red baseball cap.

When it came time to reveal the judge’s choices I was nervous. I thought Croatia would win because it’s a good fun catchy song. No issues from me if they won. I liked it, but I wanted Nemo to win. It would be so powerful. Country by country gave 12 points to Switzerland and I felt as nervous as Nemo looked on screen. Could this happen? Then came the public vote and it looked less likely. Croatia had a big lead… but then it happened. Switzerland got the points they needed and won! Nemo won! Yes! Oh, it was incredible to see. Someone who identified like me, and wore clothes like me, won. France was straight in with a hug and after that was Ireland’s Bambie Thug, the only other non-binary artist. They ran over to hug Nemo and they crowned them. They crowned the witch! Unbelievable. What a moment of queer joy.


Today, as I write this, Nemo’s story is everywhere. Every newspaper, local and national are discussing the non-binary artist who won. “What is non-binary?” “What was the flag they held up?” “What was the song about?” There’s power in that connection. Not enough to change the world in one night, but maybe enough to chip away at fear and hatred causing people to be curious about the world once more. Today I feel hopeful once more because Europe came together and elevated non-binary joy. We can lift our heads and look up, if only for a night. We can come together. Can’t we?

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