Conchita Wurst, Drag Queen, Wins Eurovision, Shuts Down Anti-Gay Critics
Conchita Wurst won Eurovision on Sunday with her power ballad “Rise Like A Phoenix,” and her win ruffled feathers of homophobes who protest her win as a drag queen performer.
i'm home <3 i don't know what to say…. THANK YOU!!!!! pic.twitter.com/bVoiE8koEo
— conchita wurst (@ConchitaWurst) May 11, 2014
Wurst is the onstage persona of singer, Tom Neuwirth, 25, who performs in full makeup and dress with a beard, natural and enhanced by makeup. Newirth created Conchita Wurst in 2011 as a statement of protest against intolerance and discrimination, according to Conchita Wurst’s official website. Wurst enjoyed a successful stint on an Austrian talent competition called The Big Chance and competed as Wurst in various other reality singing competitions as well. Conchita is sometimes called ‘the Bearded Lady’ and has become a symbol for gay rights in Austria, where Newirth originates, and, now, across the world.
Wurst won the international singing competition for Austria with 290 points, with 52 points over the second place act of the Netherlands – Austria’s first win since 1966. Wurst’s huge victory is no small feat, with many countries protesting Wurst’s presence in the competition prior to Eurovision and some threatening to boycott.
Russians Protest Wurst's Victory
Vitaly Milonov, the Russian lawmaker who sponsored the “gay propaganda” law in Russia, publicly called for a boycott of the competition, saying that the inclusion of Conchita Wurst made Eurovision gay propaganda:
“The participation of the obvious transvestite and hermaphrodite Conchita Wurst, on the same stage as Russian singers, on live television – this is clearly propaganda of homosexuality and spiritual decay.”
True to their word, Russia immediately expressed their anger at Conchita Wurst’s win.
Conchita Wurst’s beard has become a badge of pride among her fans, and is now the focus of homophobic anger. In protest, Russian broadcaster and personality Andrei Malakhov started a trend on Twitter, announcing that he was going to shave his beard. And Russian men have been following suit, also posting photos of themselves shaving on Twitter.
Шокирован Кончитой Вурст! pic.twitter.com/NLFEbE6gMF
— Андрей Малахов (@a_malahov) May 10, 2014
Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin tweeted that, by crowing Conchita Wurst the winner, Eurovision “showed supporters of European integration their European future: a bearded girl.”
“There’s no limit to our outrage. It’s the end of Europe. It has turned wild,” said Russian politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky.
Zhirinovsky even went so far as to say that Wurst’s victory shows that Russia should be in control of Austria, stating, “Fifty years ago the Soviet army occupied Austria. We made a mistake in freeing Austria. We should have stayed.”
Conchita Wurst Stands For Tolerance And Peace
At a press conference following her win, Wurst continued to spread her message of tolerance and peace, though she did admit that she was thinking of Russian President Vladimir Putin and others during her performances.
“This project is based on tolerance, acceptance and love,” Wurst said.
Wurst went on to point out that her win proved that there are individuals in every country who embrace her despite their nation’s prejudices.
“Yesterday was a victory not just for me, but also for those people who believe in a future that functions without discrimination and which is based on tolerance and respect. That was transnational and had nothing to do with East and West,” Wurst said.
Wurst also has the full support of her country, with Austrian President Heinz Fischer declaring her success “not just a victory for Austria, but above all for diversity and tolerance in Europe.”
“This night is dedicated to everyone who believes in a future of peace and freedom. You know who you are. We are unity. And we are unstoppable,” Wurst told the screaming crowd when she accepted her award.