Israeli transsexual pop diva
won the Eurovision song contest in Birmingham, England, May 9, setting
off wild celebrations in the streets by Israeli gays. The contest,
featuring competitors from 25 nations, was seen by 600 million TV viewers
throughout Europe, where it is considered a major event.
"My victory is my personal
birthday gift to the state [of Israel] on its 50th birthday," said International,
29, who performed her dance hit 'Diva' wearing a clingy dress designed
for her by Jean- Paul Gaultier.
"It is a signal to all those
around the world who harbor prejudices -- we are all equal. I am proud
and happy. ... This just goes to show the world is open-minded and liberated,"
she said. International, born Yaron Cohen, was a popular drag performer
in Israel's gay clubs before her 1993 sex-change operation.
Her nomination to represent
Israel in the contest angered some conservative legislators, with one calling
her "an abomination" and another fuming: "Undergoing a sex change is worse
than an act of sodomy. Choosing her is sending a message of darkness to
But Israeli President Ezer
Weizman gushed, "I stayed glued to my television set until late and I was
very proud of her because it's a victory for our country."
International is scheduled
to perform this August at the Gay Games in Amsterdam.
Former Eurovision winners
include ABBA, who won with Waterloo in 1974, and Celine Dion, who won in
1988 representing Switzerland. Singers need not be a citizen of the nation
Radio Station Forced to Apologize
Australia's Tweed Radio network
has been forced to take out ads in seven gay newspapers apologizing for
a talk-show host's attacks on gays and people with HIV.
"Overnight Australia" host
Steve Schimanski told an HIV-positive caller, "You're a sick individual
and I hope you die horribly." And in reference to Sydney's world-famous
gay Mardi Gras parade, he said: "Unbelievably nauseating. The antithesis
of human kind. ... I would like to see someone dig a very big hole and
drop the whole stinking lot of them down it."
The ads settle a complaint
filed with the New South Wales Anti- Discrimination Board by the AIDS Council
of New South Wales and the Queensland AIDS Council, charging that the broadcasts
violated New South Wales' anti-vilification laws.
Schimanski was later fired
for offending listeners.