Marija Serifovic Wins 2007 Eurovision Song Contest


In a televised event watched by 100 million people around the world this weekend, 23-year-old Serbian contestant Marija Serifovic beat out participants from 42 European countries to win the 52nd annual Eurovision Song Contest, hosted in Helsinki, Finland.

Serifovic, who has not commented publicly on her sexual orientation but whose dress and performance style has led many to conclude she is a lesbian, won with her performance of a power ballad about lost love called “Molitva” (“Prayer”), which included female back-up singers wearing black Dolce & Gabbana pantsuits and holding hands.

The winner was selected in each country based on telephone votes and text messages. Serifovic received the most votes overall, defeating the second-place contestant, drag queen Verka Serduchka from Ukraine.

Serifovic’s win was widely celebrated across her country as thousands of Serbians took to the streets after her win, cheering, honking horns and waving the Serbian flag. A crowd of 25,000 amassed in Belgrade to welcome Serifovic home.

“Congratulations, Marija! Serbia is very proud tonight and celebrates your success,” Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica said in a statement. A government spokeswoman for the Republika Srpska — which along with the Muslim-Croat federation, now makes up the Bosnian nation — congratulated Serifovic for “for succeeding in bringing Serbia closer to the European Union.”

The celebration may have more to do with national pride than anything else, as the win was seen by many Serbians as a rare sign of support from other European countries, as well as a bright moment for a country that has been consumed by war and its aftermath for almost 15 years. This was also Serbia’s first appearance in the Eurovision competition as an independent nation, after Serbia and Montenegro split last year.

Serifovic’s countrymen have not always been so supportive of her. Throughout the semifinals, Serifovic was widely criticized by Serbian tabloids for her appearance and her perceived sexual orientation, but she remained undeterred. “I’m different. My song is different. Serbia is different,” she told Reuters Television in the days leading up to the finals, “so I hope we will make something out of it.”

Serifovic’s win has bolstered not just Serbian pride, but “Serbia’s tiny and harassed gay community,” according to Reuters, “who celebrated the lesbian chic-tinged performance as a rare sight in the conservative Christian Orthodox country.” Following her win, Serifovic told reporters that “a new chapter has opened for Serbia and not only in music.”

The massive nationwide celebration is also a small sign of progress for women, according to Britain’s Independent, which notes: “Such outpourings are typical when the country’s basketball or water polo teams are victorious. But this was different, for it was the first time the proverbially macho Serbs had done the same honours for a young female singer — let alone one with Serifovic’s unusual fashion sense.”

Serifovic will travel to six European countries on the Winner’s Tour. Watch Serifovic’s winning performance here:

Visit the official Eurovision website for more info.

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