John M. Becker

Bearded Drag Queen Wins Eurovision; Russia Freaks Out

Filed By John M. Becker | May 11, 2014 6:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Gay Icons and History, Living
Tags: Conchita Wurst, drag, drag queen, Eurovision, gender bending, Russia, Russian anti-LGBT laws, Vladimir Putin

Yesterday, bearded Austrian gender-bending artist Conchita Wurst (the alter ego of Thomas Neuwirth) won the Eurovision 2014 contest. Watch the performance of the song "Rise Like a Phoenix" that won her the title:

Conchita was in top form and clearly deserved the win on the merits of her performance alone, but her victory also represented a strong affirmation of the European values of inclusiveness and tolerance (she won over the howls of homophobes in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus).

After she won, Wurst was asked if she had anything to say to anti-gay Russian president Vladimir Putin. Wurst responded, I don't know if he is watching this now, but if so, I'll say it: 'We're unstoppable.'"

And Russia freaked the hell out.

Agence France Presse reports:

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin wrote on Twitter that the Eurovision result "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. They don't have men and women any more. They have 'it'," nationalist politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky told Rossiya-1 state television.

"Fifty years ago the Soviet army occupied Austria. We made a mistake in freeing Austria. We should have stayed," added the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party, known for his outrageous statements...

Popular hip-hop star Timati wrote on his Instagram account that Wurst's victory was the result of a "mental illness of contemporary society".

"I wouldn't like one fine day to have to explain to my child why two guys are kissing or a woman is walking round with a dyed beard and that's supposed to be normal," he said.

But the reaction from Russia wasn't all negative. According to AFP, Filipp Kirkorov -- the "flamboyant" Russian pop star who produced that country's Eurovision act this year -- called on his fellow Russians to treat Wurst with respect and even suggested that perhaps Russia should drop the whole homophobia thing.

"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," Kirkorov said.

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