Conchita Wurst: a victory for pro-gays in Europe
Ever since winning last weekend’s Eurovision 2014, Conchita Wurst has changed everyone’s idea of conservative Austria — and people are hoping that Conchita-fever will hit the rest of Europe, particularly the eastern countries, for good.
Conchita’s victory comes in the midst of Russia’s strong anti-gay stance, the latest being President Vladimir Putin’s signing of a law that banned ‘gay propaganda.’
Prior to and after Conchita’s win last Sunday, the 25-year-old drag performer had received flak from her home country Austria and a few prominent Russians. Austria’s right-wing FPÖ party called her act ‘ridiculous’ and an anti-Conchita Facebook page garnered 31,000 likes last year.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin meanwhile commented via Twitter that Eurovision ‘showed supporters of European integration their European future: a bearded girl.’ Nationalist politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky also lamented ‘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”.’
However, Austrian presenter Alfons Haider, who is openly gay, believed that Conchita’s victory is a positive sign that says Eastern Europe, despite Russia’s stance, is slowly becoming more tolerant of gays: ‘[In the Eurovision voting], Russia awarded [Conchita] five points, and Ukraine awarded her seven points.’
Conchita herself said that she has been getting positive response from conservative countries, not just those in Eastern Europe. But regardless of the country, the singer said what matters is ‘there are people… who believe what I believe.’
Since returning to Vienna, Conchita, born Tom Neuwirth from Bad Mitterndorf in Styria, has become an icon for anti-discrimination and gender tolerance: ‘This will remain an issue for a long time and I fear I won’t see the end of it in my lifetime.
‘It will be my life’s worth and I gladly take it on.’