Montenegro’s entrant for the Eurovision Song Contest is a big hit with international audiences, but people in his conservative homeland are outraged by his flamboyant flair and suggestive statements.
Slavko Kalezić earned a spot in the giant music competition’s semi-finals with his song “Space,” which challenges notions of masculine and feminine beauty. With luck, he’ll make it to the finals in Kiev on May 13.
But Montenegro is among the most homophobic nations in Europe—A Pride event in the capital was met by violent anti-gay protesters in 2013—and Kalezić’s penchant for hair extensions and flowing blue skirts has not gone down well. Neither did his declaring, “I am born to win. I am your queen!” after he won.
Some critics have called Kalezić a symbol of “Western decadence,” akin to Austrian drag queen Conchita Wurst, who won Eurovision in 2014. But the 31-year-old performer is standing firm: Last month on Facebook he posted that he wasn’t interested in having as fans “primitive people drowning in their own ignorance and inability.”
Kalezić has already garnered attention as a member of the Montenegrin National Theater and a contestant on the Serbian version of X Factor in 2013, where he sang Beyonce’s “End of Time.” He recently released his debut album, The Dream of Eternity
Watch the video for his song “Space” below.