Lithuania’s performance at the Eurovision semifinals, which took place on the evening of May 28th, 2015, featured two same-sex kisses and has attracted a great deal of support from the international media and the LGBT* community.
The LGBT* news service pinknews.co.uk reports that Eurovision fans worldwide are celebrating the performance of Vaidas Baumila and Monika Linkytė and the message it sent. The article emphasizes that neither same-sex marriage nor civil partnerships are allowed in Lithuania.
The news site mentions the uproar that took place two years ago at Eurovision when Finnish competitor Krista Siegfrids shared a tender kiss with a woman on stage. Because of this episode, a Turkish television station refused to air the Eurovision finale—a decision that was met with a significant amount of criticism from human rights organizations.
Gaystarnews.com, a news site with hundreds of thousands of readers, also positively responded to the Lithuanian performance with an article entitled “Double gay kiss live on Eurovision stage.” The article notes that this is not the first time that a same-sex couple has kissed on the Eurovision stage. For example, when Sweden hosted the competition two years ago, there was a parody in which two male Swedish grooms kissed.
However, this performance will have a place in history, as it’s the first time that two same-sex couples have simultaneously kissed on the Eurovision stage. Moreover, as gaystarnews.com points out, “displays of affection between same-sex [couples] have usually been [from] more open and progressive Western countries, this one being the first from one of the ex-Russian states.”
In his interview with the news site, Vaidas Baumila says, “As a straight man, I am proud to have gay friends; one of my best friends is gay. We must find a way to live in tolerance and equality in the world, and how we can change the major opinion about gay men and women in my country. People are afraid of things they don’t understand. We have to show them that in this case the fear is inadequate. We must educate [others about] the subject.”
Vladimir Simonko, Executive Director of the national LGBT* rights organization LGL, had the opportunity to attend the Eurovision semifinals. He expresses great joy when describing the performance, saying, “I believed the sincerity of Vaidas and Monika’s performance. I saw the supportive reaction from fans coming from Israel, Norway and Australia. Most of them knew the lyrics and sang along. It was difficult to rouse the audience, but they absolutely managed to do it.” He is convinced that this duo’s performance did a lot more to send a message of tolerance and change Lithuania’s image as a homophobic country than most of the initiatives launched by politicians.
Right before the show, he met with a Lesbian couple from Vienna who was thrown out of a café for sharing a kiss. “It means a lot to have a kiss on the Eurovision stage representing the rights of same-sex couples,” comments Vladimir. “The message is simple. Our country is one of the most regressive states in the European Union [when it comes to LGBT* rights].”
“We still have a lot of homophobia, and people still question why we need to broadcast ‘this thing’ so much. There is no ‘this thing.’ It’s just love, and nothing more. People love one another. As a straight man, I can say that I’m not worried about people will think of me for including such a kiss in our performance. And by the way, friends, both of the men who kissed are also straight and have girlfriends,” says Baumila.
He adds, “The world is full of different types of people, different races, different loves, different sexualities, and to hate something is just to place a stamp of misunderstanding and fear upon yourself. And who can live in fear? That’s our message. I don’t say this angrily; I’m just expressing my opinion.” After the duo’s successful performance at the semifinals, Baumila has continued to send this message of equality at press conferences.