A Bearded Lady Wins Eurovision Song Contest

Jim Burroway

May 12th, 2014

Austrian bearded drag queen Conchita Wurst won the 59th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday with a James Bond-inspired entry that had unleashed a wave of protests in eastern Europe before the competition.

The power ballad, “Rise Like a Phoenix,” helped Wurst — the alter ego of 25-year-old Thomas Neuwirth — secure Austria’s second victory in the competition with 290 points. The country also won in 1966.

“This is dedicated to everyone who believes in a future of peace and freedom,” a tearful Wurst said as she accepted the trophy from Denmark’s Emmelie de Forrest, who won the contest last year. “We are unity.”

Russia has been a participant in the European Song Contest since 2000. They won in 2008, which gave then the right to host it in 2009. But today, one Russian pol is spitting bullets over Wurst’s win:

Wurst’s victory prompted an outpouring of anti-gay anger from Russian politicians and stars with deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin tweeting that the result “showed supporters of European integration their European future: a bearded girl”.

Nationalist politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky told Rossiya-1 state television: “There’s no limit to our outrage. It’s the end of Europe. It has turned wild. They don’t have men and women any more. They have ‘it’.

“Fifty years ago the Soviet army occupied Austria. We made a mistake in freeing Austria. We should have stayed.”

Russian reaction wasn’t universally negative though:

Flamboyant pop star Filipp Kirkorov, producer of Russia’s Eurovision entry this year, even suggested Wurst’s victory should make Russians reconsider homophobic views.

“Maybe this is a kind of protest against some of our views in Russia. Maybe we should have a think. Maybe we shouldn’t have such a categorical attitude to people of different sexual orientations,” he told Rossiya-1 television.

“In a way it probably is a challenge from Europe to us, but let’s respect the winner. People don’t judge a winner.”

Norm

May 12th, 2014

UK ex-gay Peter Ould somehow interpreted Wurst’s win as leading to incest and polygamy:

…You were warned.

By all means celebrate diversity and tolerance. Certainly oppose discrimination and persecution. Definitely seek to understand and help. But stop and reflect for a moment as well. Are we truly creating a more open and accepting society, or are we replacing one normativity (a normativity that seeks to govern society by certain expectations and rules) with another? Is this new normativity of “inclusion” really any better than the paradigm it replaces? Is it in any way inclusive if it will not grant to other queer expressions (consensual incest, polyamoury) the same rights it fights for? Is it really diverse if it silences, nay threatens to burn, those who believe that an acceptance and legal empowering of all forms of behaviour is actually harmful for society?

If Conchita is signing about resurrection, what exactly are we bringing to rebirth?…

Atriokke

May 12th, 2014

Ppl like Conchita push the boundaries and make us question what we take for granted, gender conformity in this case. Even for my openly gay friends on fb this got them thinking. I can’t even imagine how much of a shock and repulsion might’ve been experienced by those who epitomize resistance to such a change.

Neil

May 12th, 2014

Dana International was quite a controversial winner back in 1998, being transgender, but Conchita Wurst, 16 years later, seems to have stirred up even more aggravation. Yet he’s just a gender illusionist with a beard.

jpeckjr

May 12th, 2014

To the Russian politician who is spitting bullets: 50 years ago is 1964. The Soviet army was not occupying Austria in 1964. The post WWII division of Austria among the allies ended in 1955. Perhaps you are confusing Austria with Hungary and 1956, or with Czechoslovakia and 1968.

Whatever. Your hatred-addled brain is confused, doesn’t know history, and can’t do math. “Our outrage knows no limits.” What are you going to do about it — annex Austria?

james

May 12th, 2014

That was an incredible performance by any standards! Wow!

Regan DuCasse

May 12th, 2014

The religious right’s and other conservatives are showing similar outrage to Michael Sam’s NFL job and the celebratory kiss he gave his boyfriend.

Bryan Fischer has spent six or seven articles suggesting what Michael Sam needs to do to turn his life around and not get AIDS.

And Conchita Wurst invokes this outraged comment from Russian politicos.

In all of this we’re talking about a strong, handsome, talented young athlete who is in a loving relationship. He’s had a remarkable college career, a young black man from a tough family situation.

Conchita Wurst has a sensational singing voice and one can see, regardless the gender bending, is a good looking young person as well.

They are not militantly calling for the violent takeover of society.

They abuse no one, they have committed no crimes against another human being.
The Rainbow flag, represents a community whose efforts have been achieved through due process of law, winning through talent and perseverance and non violence.
Wurst and Sam are unafraid, and unashamed.
Amazing how radical THAT is and how many people accept it.
The haters, cowards and ignorant are going to think otherwise and demand they win the day.
But why should hate, cowardice and ignorance win anything?

Victor

May 13th, 2014

She has a terrific voice and the production number was fabulous. I can’t help but wonder if the audience reaction – which seemed quite genuine – was not driven, in part, by outrage over Russia’s antigay agenda – an expression of passion that felt like it was about more than the performance alone. The bearded girl imagery shocked – that was the point – because the song would have been just as fantastic if she had shaved that morning. The beard was a conscious choice. I, personally, found it a distraction. But I appreciate artistic audacity and celebrate courage and I like being challenged inside my comfortably safe gay skin. The Russian apoplexy… well, that is just a bonus.

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