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Friday 20 July 2018

'We were at that point at one stage' - Europe's closeted LGBT youth inspired by Ireland's Eurovision performance

Irish Eurovision hopeful Ryan O'Shaughnessy pictured on the blue carpet at the opening ceremony for the Eurovision Song Contest 2018 in Lisbon, Portugal. Picture: Andres Poveda
Irish Eurovision hopeful Ryan O'Shaughnessy pictured on the blue carpet at the opening ceremony for the Eurovision Song Contest 2018 in Lisbon, Portugal. Picture: Andres Poveda
Brian O'Reilly

Brian O'Reilly

Ireland's Eurovision backing dancers have been 'overwhelmed' by the messages they have been receiving from LGBT teens around Europe since their performance on Tuesday.

The pair received a massive ovation in Tuesday's Semi Final as the first ever performing same-sex couple in Eurovision's 63 year history.

Ryan O'Shaughnessy (25) defied the bookies odds when his song 'Together' powered straight into Saturday's final from what was dubbed the 'semi final of death'.

Now his backing dancers Alan McGrath (25) and Kevin O'Dwyer (24) have become sources of inspiration for LGBT young people around Europe, as they've been inundated with messages of support for their act on social media.

Ryan O’Shaughnessy celebrates making it to the final of Eurovision. Photo: AP
Ryan O’Shaughnessy celebrates making it to the final of Eurovision. Photo: AP

While Ireland became the first country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage by public vote in 2015, many countries competing in Eurovision still have a poor LGBT rights record.

It emerged that earlier this week the Chinese broadcaster of Eurovision had edited out the Irish performance entirely due to its depiction of a gay relationship.

Last night, after Independent.ie highlighted the issue, Eurovision bosses announced they had terminated the Chinese broadcasters rights with immediate effect, meaning last night's semi final and Saturday's final weren't beamed to China.

Speaking to Independent.ie, dancer Alan from Tallaght said the duo had been overwhelmed by the messages of support that have poured in from around the continent:

"We've had such touching messages from people around Europe who aren't out, or who are in the closet. It's a great thing because Kevin and I were both at that point in our lives at some stage. It's great to be able to send out such a positive message.

"We've had so many messages from people we don't know, and young people saying how much it means to them and how important it is what we're doing," Kevin added.

Ryan O'Shaughnessy celebrates getting through to the Eurovision final with Team Ireland. PIC: Andres Poveda
Ryan O'Shaughnessy celebrates getting through to the Eurovision final with Team Ireland. PIC: Andres Poveda

"What Ryan wanted to do was to just spread this message and once we do that, that's all we can ask for."

Ireland's Eurovison hopeful Ryan O'Shaughnessy pushed to include the ground-breaking same sex dance performance on stage, as he wanted to show love is universal.

The dancing duo said they didn't expect the massive ovation they received from the live audience they got during Tuesday's semi final.

"I wasn't sure if there was going to be maybe a small reaction, but when I heard it I got really emotional", Alan said.

When the duo filmed the song's hugely popular music video in Temple Bar they explained they still were in the dark over whether they'd be needed in Lisbon.

Kevin explained: "We knew it was in talks, but until we saw the reaction to the video we weren't sure, but the video then did so well and got a great reaction."

Despite their young age, the pair are two of Ireland's most experienced professional dancers.

As well as backing Ryan Dolan in Eurovision 2013, Alan has gone on a year long US tour with Celtic Woman, as well as recently performing on TV3's Ireland's Got Talent.

He also runs his own dance school, Dizzy Footwork, which celebrated its 10th year this year.

Meanwhile Kevin has performed extensively abroad, after training for three years in London and performing on a West End tour of Germany.

He'd never performed at Eurovison before, and despite Alan sharing his past experience he said: "I knew it was going to be big, but until we got here I couldn't understand the scale of it."

Ireland perform in the final of the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday starting at 8pm on RTE One.

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