Dana International’s very first approach to Eurovision stage was in 1995, when she competed at Israeli National Final with the song “Layla Tov Europa”. Since then, she’s always been remembered and supported by the Eurovision fandom. She represented Israel two times in Eurovision Song Contest, once in 1998 with her winning song “Diva”, and once in 2011 with “Ding Dong”. She also composed and co-wrote the Israeli entry in 2008, “The Fire In Your Eyes” which was performed by Boaz.
Dana International, also known as the “diva” of Eurovision, was born as male in 1972 in Tel-Aviv with the name Sharon Cohen. In 1983, after watching the Eurovision performance of that year’s Israeli representative Ofra Haza, she decided to become a singer. She changed her gender when she was 21, and gave herself the name “Dana”, in memory of her childhood friend Daniel, who had died in a traffic accident. By far, Dana International has been the only transgender winner of the Eurovision Song Contest.
After being invited to Madrid Pride, Dana gave an interview to Spanish media. She said:
“Being a diva always requires hard work, and I am working as hard as I can. So, I am not a diva yet.
When I participated at Eurovision, the Ultra-Orthodox community threatened me with death. Even our commentator didn’t attend the gala. In the end, things didn’t go as we were afraid, and we won, even though the books were not so bright! They used to see me as an embarrasment for Israel, but then my success silenced them all. I proved myself. My song became a hit worldwide, but the CD was banned in Arabic countries. Despite the restrictions, my song reached lots of people.
After winning the Eurovision Song Contest, I became very well-known all over the world. I gave lots of interviews and appeared in lots of live shows. Then, I was offered to join Spice Girls, the popular girl band of those times, but I rejected this offer. The reason was that, I wanted to live like a normal woman. I thought I may not keep pace with such a fast life.
Finally, I am deeply sorry for the Orlando shooting. Terror is terror. Just because it is made against gay people, doesn’t mean it is more serious than other terrorist attacks. Terror is always a huge disaster.”
Below you can watch Dana’s performance at Madrid Pride.