Eurovision fans are rising like phoenixes to raise thousands for queer charities with a new online phenomenon

Coronavirus is now a threat to the Eurovision song contest

When news that the 2020 Eurovision Song Contest was cancelled – citing concerns over the coronavirus pandemic – LGBT+ folk across the world shed tears by the bucketload.

For weeks, the future of the pan-European contest, which was set to take place in Rotterdam in May, was thrown into jeopardy. But its postponement was confirmed after the Netherlands joined other countries in placing restrictions on concerts and mass gatherings.

While Eurovision organisers and some broadcasters have scrambled to craft substitutions that might net the 180 million viewers the contest typically does, none quite have the sparkle of the real thing.

That’s why Rob Holley, a keen Eurovision aficionado based in England, started #EurovisionAgain, an initiative all about re-watching archival Eurovision contests every Saturday night.

“I started #EurovisionAgain a few weeks ago as a way for a few pals to watch an old contest together through Twitter on a Saturday night after Eurovision and life, in general, got cancelled,” Holley told PinkNews.

“We’re now on week five and it’s snowballed to the point that the watch-a-long on a Saturday evening is trending globally, and beating shows like Britain’s Got Talent – it’s bonkers.”

But in syncing up and watching tinny recordings of camptastic singers, they’re actually raising thousands of pounds for LGBT+ charities.

Eurovision re-watch raises £3,800 for trans youth charity Mermaids. 

“Last week we thought it might be fun to try and raise £500 for Mermaids, and before the show had even started we’d smashed the target and ended up raising nearly £4,000,” Holley said.

“They’re such an incredibly important and vital charity that it was a genuine pleasure to raise a little for them.”

The last-minute fundraiser rallied more than £3,800 for the charity.

With this today’s (April 18) watch party raising money for Mermaids, Stonewall and the Terrence Higgins Trust, Holley is hopeful that they’ll smash the target once again, where viewers can chip in coins here.

How can I join in for the next #EurovisionAgain?

Holley, who writes about Eurovision for the Independent, sought to recreate the “Saturday night tweet-a-long” of the real contest, which is almost a ritual for many. Where organising boozy viewing parties and casting telephone votes to pick a winner is a yearly custom, almost.

This year’s show being postponed to curtail the climb of coronavirus has ruptured the contest’s more than 60-yearlong history, making it the first year since records began that Eurovision won’t air.

So, each Saturday at 8pm “for the foreseeable future”, the project’s about page soberly says, organisers pick a classic Eurovision session from the back-catalogue.

For its the first week, the 2013 final – which saw Denmark’s Emmelie de Forest crowned winner with “Only Teardrops” – was chosen.

The contest year is revealed 15 minutes before and with a streaming link on #EurovisionAgain’s Twitter feed.

But also linked are printable scorecards and a voting site is made so viewers can award points to nations as if they were a jury member.

‘[It] shows just how brilliant the Eurovision fan community is.’

And, as of April, the Eurovision YouTube account will live stream the chosen year for fans each Saturday.

Holley said: “The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) noticed the trending and have started to put high definition versions from their archives online for us, as a nod of support.

“It’s amazing that the EBU would be so supportive of such a dorky fan project, and shows just how brilliant the Eurovision fan community is.”

The question remains for Holley, however. He’s paid to write about Eurovision, and his passion for the pop contest birthed the project.

But what is his favourite Eurovision performance of all time?

“That’s tough,” Holley said, “but from this year I’d have to pick Erika Vikman’s Cicciolina.

“It didn’t actually qualify but given nothing got to Rotterdam in the end, I think it counts. Pink PVC, giant bears, a glowing heart-stick and a Finn-disco banger about Italian porn star Cicciolina.

“What is not to love?”