Unless you have been living under a rock then you will have known that Conchita Wurst won Eurovision 2014. You will also have known that Conchita is a Drag Performer and the combination of her stunning female looks and and masculine beard have caused delight, confusion and outrage from people in equal numbers. Wurst’s popularity has taken the public’s imagination by storm but no more so from women. If statistics are to be believed then Conchita’s largest fan community is that of women.
That got us thinking here at Eurovision Ireland. We wanted to know why so many women were enthralled by Conchita. So we have asked some of our Eurovision Ireland family to tell us their story and why Conchita Wurst is their heroine. First up is Michelle Topham.
Three months ago, I’d never heard of Conchita Wurst. Being British, I’ve always been a Eurovision fan. Having lived in Thailand for the last 12 years, however, I usually forget the contest is on until news online right after it reminds me. So, until May 11th, 2014, Conchita Wurst wasn’t even the tiniest blip on my radar.
But that particular Sunday morning, I headed to YouTube to find out who had won Eurovision and after watching her sing ‘Rise Like a Phoenix’, I was intrigued. Intrigued because a drag artist had won Eurovision, and because this one was just so darned pretty.
Now before I explain why I was interested in Conchita Wurst and why now I’m so enamoured, I have to explain my background. Currently a writer and freelance journalist, but formerly a professional fundraiser for non-profits in America, I worked and volunteered for mainly AIDS and gay rights charities for years. So, of course, drag artists and drag performances are nothing new to me.
Conchita Wurst, however, is not your normal drag artist and, only hours after I first saw her at Eurovision, that had become obvious to me.
That’s because, once I’d watched her winning performance I went to find out more about her. Several hours later, after being glued to every Conchita Wurst interview and concert performance I could unearth, and I was floored by her charm, charisma, talent, personality, emotional strength, professionalism, intelligence, and, of course, her beauty.
But what hit me the most, and made me realize there and then I was already a lifelong Conchita Wurst fan, was her incredible drive to succeed. That and her unwillingness to ever let anyone stop her from doing what she wanted to do.
A Facebook page from outraged Austrians furious that she was representing their country at Eurovision? She just ignored it. Russia threatening to withdraw from the competition after calling it a “hotbed of sodomy”? Their prerogative, but she was still going.
In fact, while the bigotry and homophobia directed at her from what probably seemed like every angle must have hurt, she seemed to use it to spur her on to even greater things. That – I admire more than anything.
So, three months after Eurovision and I’m not only a fan, I’m also darned and determined I’m going to do everything I can to make sure Conchita Wurst becomes an international star. And stays at the top for as long as she wants to.
Because people with the strength of character Conchita Wurst has don’t come along very often.
But, now that she’s here, her drive and willingness to put herself out there to be picked apart by those less open-minded than the rest of us, in order to spread her message of respect, acceptance and tolerance, should be supported. No matter what.
After all, it’s not only rights for the gay community Conchita is talking about. It’s rights for everyone. No matter their sexual orientation, skin color, ethnicity or gender — and there’s no other issue more important.
As for what I’d like to see Conchita Wurst achieve in what I believe is going to be a long and illustrious career? Everything she wants to.
Be a superstar as big or bigger than Celine Dion? You go, girl.
Design her own fashion label and collaborate with world-famous designers like Jean Paul Gaultier? Tell me where I can buy her clothes.
Be a sought after speaker on gay rights and human rights issues? I’m a writer. I’ll write her speeches, and she’ll do a killer delivery.
After all, what Conchita Wurst can accomplish with her drive and ambition is pretty much unlimitless, and every goal she sets herself she’ll easily achieve.
That’s why she’ll always have my support. Because she is, as she told us in her now famous Eurovision acceptance speech – unstoppable.
Guest Author : Michelle Topham
Michelle Topham is a British writer who currently lives in Bangkok, Thailand. She’s the founder and editor of Leo Sigh, a website that celebrates celebrities, and one of Conchita Wurst’s biggest fans. How do we know that? She just had Conchita Wurst’s beard tatooed on her arm.