Few celebrities in Ukraine’s history have come out of the closet fearing the largely conservative society’s rejection.
But Ukrainian singer Melovin has recently set a precedent as the country’s most famous person to publicly address being LGBTQ.
The singer kissed a woman and then a man during his performance at Ukraine’s biggest music festival, Atlas Weekend, on July 5 in Kyiv. Melovin later wrote on Instagram that he is bisexual.
“We are a strong nation. We are not afraid to move forward, feel the rhythm of time and keep up with other democratic countries,” Melovin wrote on Instagram.
Melovin, whose real name is Kostyantyn Bocharov, is best known for representing Ukraine at the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest, finishing 17th in the finals.
Ukrainians who previously addressed being queer publicly were mostly little-known figures that didn’t reach a nationwide audience.
Ukraine Pride, a nonprofit that advocates for LGBTQ people, says that Melovin’s performance is the country’s first coming out on stage.
“We lived to see it,” Ukraine Pride wrote on Instagram.
However, Melovin’s move was surrounded by some controversy.
The official broadcaster of the event, the television channel M1, didn’t air the singer’s coming out, cutting it out of the broadcast. The full video of the performance was later published on YouTube. Melovin called the decision an act of censorship.
“Should the struggle for rights and freedoms be censored?” he said. “If not, then I unquestionably support you. And if so, then I am not sure I want to exist in such a Ukraine’s future.”
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The M1 denied the accusations saying that the cuts weren’t done on purpose. The channel’s general producer Serhii Pertsev wrote on Facebook that the broadcast team didn’t know that Melovin planned to come out in the performance and wasn’t prepared to show it.
The channel later explained in a comment to media outlet Detector Media that every second of a broadcast is planned in advance according to the stage program.
“M1 TV channel supports all human freedoms and rights,” the broadcaster told Detector Media.
On July 6, the channel published the full version of Melovin’s performance on YouTube. It also announced it has a TV project with Melovin in a leading role in work.
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