How did Eurovision become one of the biggest nights in the LGBT+ calendar?

Eurovision has a long and proud history of supporting queer artists and championing LGBT+ rights.

There have been countless key moments that waved the flag for LGBT+ representation.

In 1998 Dana International entered the competition as the first trans performer - she went onto win for Israel, becoming the first trans Eurovision winner.

The contest has had several out LGBT+ winners since then.

Another key moment came in 2014 when Conchita (a gay drag queen) brought her gender non-conforming drag to the masses.

Conchita Wurst representing Austria performs the song ' Rise Like a Phoenix'. Credit: AP

Her 'Rise Like a Phoenix' performance was described in the press as "the most genderqueer yet".

The contest kicked off in the wake of Russia introducing its "gay propaganda" or "anti-gay" law. The law claimed to protect children from homosexuality, and condemned representing LGBT+ lives as a norm in society for fear.

Of course none of these performers escaped the inevitable bigotry aimed at LGBT+ people - there were calls for Eurovisions boycotts from some, and offensive remarks made by certain country's broadcasts of the contest.

But the message remained clear, as Conchita declared upon being awarded the Eurovision trophy: "We are unity and we are unstoppable".

And the LGBT+ fan base for Eurovision 2023 has delivered on that - in a big way.

Homovision in Liverpool's Chavasse park describes itself as "20 years of queer art" with 60 queer artists taking over the stage.

The event's producer Josiah told us it's a celebration of "being proud, being queer and seeing other queer people being so openly queer on an international stage, it's really emboldening".

Kolade, a performer and fan, described the festival and Eurovision as "a celebration of our art, our culture, our community. Just having a moment where we can be celebrated to our full capacity [including] different communities and marginalised communities".

The festival celebrated queer artists. Credit: @HomotopiaFest

It's also been an opportunity to promote local, queer talent.

"In Liverpool and Eurovision there's a big queer community that love the competition and we have a massive gay scene. We're showcasing the best queers in the city, the best queers in the UK!" says drag artist Filla Crack.

'You want to know people have got your back'

With LGBT+ fans from far and wide arriving in the city, organisers have made safe spaces to connect with others and get away from the hustle and bustle of the main event.

Rylan Clark opened Pride House Liverpool at the start of the month, a community pop up that's open for the length of the celebrations.

Andi Herring, Chief Executive of Liverpool City Region's Pride Foundation, described the celebrations as "gay Christmas" and, as we all know, Christmas can be a stressful time.

"You want to know people have got your back and the support is there if you need it," he says.

It's a space "to see people like you," he says "where you can be yourself and chill if you need to".