Conchita Wurst, 25, Austrian drag act, has won the crown in the Eurovision Song Contest, proving that the competition was most definitely not a drag. The annual scramble for the title, in its 59th year, was held in Denmark, with roughly 180 million people watching live in 45 countries. The bearded lady, as Conchita Wurst is popularly called, and whose real name is Tom Neuwirth, beat out the Common Linnets, a modern-country duo from the Netherlands, and Sanna Nielson from Sweden.
Sporting a full beard, butterfly eyelashes and high heels, Wurst belted out a ballad like a James Bond theme with Rise Like a Phoenix, earning an amazing 290 points. The Common Linnets performance earned them 238 points for their efforts with their song Calm After the Storm, while Sanna Nielson scored 218 points and third place with the execution of her modern pop song Updo.
This is the first time since 1966 that Austria has won the Eurovision Song Contest, ensuring it is not a drag as the country has only competed in the competition twice in the last decade. It either did not qualify for the contest or it did not enter the match at all. The gamesmanship started in 1956 in Switzerland, and has been held every year since then. It was created in the hopes of inspiring unity among nations without political dissidence.
However, this year’s competition provoked controversy for many different reasons. Armenia, Russia and Belarus started online demands to have Wurst edited or removed from broadcasts of the Eurovision Song Contest in their countries, because their governments had passed laws to prohibit what they called “gay propaganda,” creating a drag on the competition. That said, transgender identification is not new to the Eurovision Song Contest: Dana International of Israel, who won the event in 1998, had undergone a male-to-female gender reassignment surgery many years before going for the gold.
Also causing havoc with this year’s match was the Ukraine Crisis situation. Due to government laws passed in some Eastern Europe countries regarding gay, lesbian and transgender rights, the contestants representing Russia suffered, while representatives from the Ukraine were seen to flourish. The Tolmachevy twin sisters of Russia, 17 years old, were booed by people in the audience during the opening ceremony and again when they were given points by neighboring nations of Russia. Mariya Yaremchuk, a 21-year-old singer from the Ukraine, received an abundance of cheers and encouragement for her entertaining performance.
In addition to the implemented laws of the Eastern European nations, organizers of the Eurovision Song Contest made plain they would definitely not tolerate a drag in contention for the crown. Due to the voting system already in place, tallies from Crimea would count as being part of Ukraine because the results are based on national existing telephone compositions.
The organizers theme for this year’s Eurovision Song Contest was “Tolerance,” inspiring many rainbow-colored flags to be unfurled in Copenhagen in support of gay pride. Conchita Wurst was the second favorite going into the final round to win the contest, behind Sanna Nielson of Sweden, but was the obvious winner in the end. Victory was being declared after only 34 countries totals had been tallied out of the 37 nations to hand in their scores. The win definitely shows the European Song Contest is as hip as ever, and not a drag at all. Europe has taken a firm stand on the gender-equality issue by voting The Bearded Lady the winner.
By Korrey Laderoute