Israel Chooses Transsexual Dana International for Eurovision 2011

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Israel's transsexual Dana International celebrates winning the Eurovision Song contest at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham May 9. Dana International won with the song "Diva" ahead of artists from 23 Euopean countries.

In a cheeky nod to anatomy, the world’s most famous transgender pop star has penned an inspirational dance number called “Ding Dong.”

And last night it proved to be a winner. The song—an ode to silent prayer and personal resolve set to a mid-tempo dance beat—secured top marks from a professional jury and Israeli Eurovision fans to win Kdam 2011, Israel’s national selection contest. Dana will now represent the country at the Eurovision final in Düsseldorf, Germany this May. (The pan-European singing contest remains the world’s most-watched non-sporting event, attracting more than 120 million viewers annually, and helped launch the careers of previous winners like ABBA and Celine Dion, and countless Eastern European acts.)

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Dana (born Yaron Cohen) has basked in the Eurovision spotlight before. Orthodox Jews were aghast when she first won the right to compete for Israel in 1998. Her single “Diva” conveyed hope that the transgender community could find strength through struggle: “She is all you’ll ever dream to find/ On her stage she sings her story/ Pain and hurt will set her heart alight/ Like a queen in all her glory.” European voters were moved by her performance at the Eurovision final and crowned her the winner. “My victory proves God is on my side,” she said afterward. “I want to send my critics a message of forgiveness … I am part of the Jewish nation.” “Diva” went on to sell more than 400,000 copies worldwide and made the Top 10 in five European countries.

And, like a true diva, she managed to rub a few people the wrong way at the 1998 contest. After being named the winner during the live broadcast, she arrived on stage late for her encore performance because she insisted on changing into an elaborate feathered dress designed by Jean-Paul Gaultier. Given the white swan number she wore last night, she’s hoping history will repeat itself. (via Haartez)

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