Hozier – Take Me To Church

Irish singer-songwriter Hozier’s Grammy-nominated Take Me to Church had huge success on both sides of the Atlantic at the end of 2014, and carried with it a strong message against homophobia, both through its attack on Roman Catholic and its hard-hitting video referencing the repression and violence faced by the LGBT community in Russia.

Early in 2015, David LaChapelle’s video of a dance piece by Sergei Polunin using the song also became a viral hit.

Conchita Wurst – Rise Like A Pheonix

Austrian broadcaster ORF’s decision to send Thomas Neuwirth’s drag persona Conchita Wurst to Sweden as the country’s entrant in the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest created an outpouring of homophobia in social media, and serious attempts in both Belarus and Russia to have Austria’s performance blocked from broadcast on the night.

Conchita’s powerful performance of a rather cheesy ballad reminiscent of Bond themes sung by Shirley Bassey made the song a runaway winner, and catapulted its singer into a worldwide media whirlwind of interviews and appearances. Luckily, Conchita Wurst proved to be highly articulate and more than capable of handling the barrage of questions on everything from gay rights to Vladimir Putin, proving she was neither out of her depth nor arrogantly claiming to represent anyone but herself. Engaging and captivating a broad audience, she became a potent symbol of resistance against repression in countries such as Russia and of the growing confidence of the LGBTQI community in Western Europe.

Elias Koskimies/Kepa Lehtinen – I’ve Only Just Begun

I’ve Only Just Begun is a short film from Finland about Venuz Vulgar and his friends on their way to St. Petersburg, Russia, made in the wake of news of further repression of the LGBT community there, with the banning of homosexual propaganda.

The song which accompanies it is the work of two of the main movers behind the project. Elias Koskimies is a successful director in his home country, and Kepa Lehtinen is also known for his work as a composer of film music and as a sound engineer.