By Eve Barlow May 2018
She was tall, svelte and glamorous in a floor-length glitter gown, with luscious brown curls and the kind of dramatic arm movements that would put an ice dancer to shame. Plus, she had an unmistakable pronunciation of the word Cleopatra. Dana International cut a dazzling figure in May 1998 when she won Eurovision for Israel. Her song, Diva, had a lot to do with it: an earworm with a thick club beat and a karaoke-ready chorus that you could make up as you went along if you didn’t quite catch all the Hebrew.
|Appearing at the semi-finals of the 2011|
Eurovision in Dusseldorf.
Photograph: Sean Gallup/Getty Images
Dana was also Eurovision’s first ever trans winner. Twenty years ago there was no Ru Paul or Trixie Mattel; the Oscar-winning Hilary Swank movie Boys Don’t Cry was a year away. The likes of TV series Transparent, or actors such as Laverne Cox, were off in the distance. The trans community wasn’t invisible, but it wasn’t the staple of the pop culture conversation that it has become; Dana’s performance at Birmingham’s National Indoor Arena felt like a watershed moment, a major celebration of a trans artist on an international stage.
I’m not saying I’m Barbra Streisand or Mariah Carey. People don’t care about my voice. They care that I speak my opinion, without fear. They’ll say I’m so brave, blah blah blah. I’m just living my life, and it’s not an easy life.