EUROVISION! Drag Artist Conchita Wurst Wins World’s Queerest Song Contest

Eurovision results are in: Austria’s Conchita Wurst wins!

“This night is dedicated to everyone who believes in a future of peace and freedom. You know who you are… we are unstoppable.”

For the unacquainted, Eurovision is a yearly celebration of pop, camp and sometimes confusion, and this year’s in particular was slated to be a “hotbed of sodomy” because of Wurst’s participation. Wurst was a clear crowd favourite going in, but – surprise! – some people in Russia and Belarus petitioned to have her performance cut from their national broadcasts.

AND THEN SHE WON.

YOUR QUEEN HAS ARRIVED.

YOUR QUEEN HAS ARRIVED.

Coming in second was the Netherlands’ The Common Linnets with one of the safest, most heterosexual (but okay, good) performances to have ever graced Eurovision. I’m also just gonna go ahead and give shout-outs to Iceland’s deliciously ridiculous “No Prejudice” by Pollapönk, and Germany’s Elaiza for the dykey vibe I’m getting from their lead singer.

Eurovision, as always, was super fun; choice highlights include Ukraine putting a man in a hamster wheel and Belarus singing something about cheesecake and also Patrick Swayze. At the same time, the international contest is nothing if not an awkward political mess so there were also more uncomfortable moments than I could count: France slapping faux-tribal face paint onto their one black performer, a really elaborate running racist joke by the Copenhagen hosts at the expense of Chinese people, the incessant booing at the two 17-year-old girls who represented Russia, Poland’s “we’re Slavic girls, we’re traditional and we’re sexy” song, and – this one I still can’t really decide how I feel about – Hungary singing (and dancing) about domestic violence.

But anyway, tonight we crowned Conchita Wurst queen of Europe (that’s how it works, right?) so good job, everyone.


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49 Comments

  1. Yes!!! You cannot underestimate the importance of a trans* person totally owning a contest watched by 180 million people. Especially when huge sections of those viewers live in places where anything non-hetero is effectively outlawed.

    Nothing has ever been more painful/amazing that the booing and silence when Russia placed their votes. Awkwarrrrrrrd.

    *(I’m not sure if she actually identifies as a drag queen, I think that’s just what the media has called her? I may be wrong.)

    • There’s def been some ambiguity and I’ll correct it if I’m wrong of course, but I took my cue from this interview and others:

      Are you the next Dana International? Will you be added to the list of winning divas?

      To clarify to everyone: Dana is no drag-artist, she’s a woman! And that’s the difference with me. I’m acting out a character, but to be born in the wrong body is a more serious ordeal and it’s not comparable to my art.

  2. On Eurovision night my twitter feed is always so funny. Us Europeans battling amongst ourselves and having a lot of fun and the rest of the world looking on in bewilderment and being utterly baffled.

    Personally I believe Eurovision is just the queerest (and best) form of warfare yet invented, even better than football/soccer ;-). Not a bad thing after all the real wars we had.

  3. WOOOOOOOT! So like, I have, like, ONE Austrian friend and he put up with my whooping all of tonight and kindly extended an invitation next year. So right, pooling together all the money for the tickets should be a piece of cheesecake amirite? Conchita you doll you darling you star, you beacon of the end of Nordic domination. Lawd that voice.

    • The finals sold out really quickly but tickets for the semis this year were cheaper than I thought they’d be (paid 100DKK/£11 for one and 350DKK/£38 for another), and anywhere in Austria’s probably WAY more affordable than Copenhagen. So I’m saying TAKE THAT INVITATION.

      • TAKEN. He cannot back out now, mwehehehehe. Might wrangle *media* passes if I can blag my way through. Anything for the country of Julie Andrews and the Von Trapp family. Seriously though, that voice. So jealous.

  4. raq

    Another huge cringe-worthy moment for me was Molly from the UK singing about “power to the people” while appropriating bindi jewelry, covering herself in henna tattoos including some additional faux–third eyes, and decorating with all kinds of vague tribal and south Asian imagery. I doubt the “power of the people” she had in mind was against white British imperialists like her.

  5. That stage is so cool!

    I’m watching the whole Live Final playlist right now and enjoying it immensely. Thank you for bringing this to my attention.

    • The stage was AMAZING. It was basically a massive cube that could do anything you wanted and the former stage manager in me was really impressed at how the floor was a giant LED screen that quickly marked out where the performers/props were supposed to be, which was so important given that they had half a minute to do things like wheel in/out a trampoline or circular piano between acts. It’s all the more impressive when you consider that all of this was built within a few months.

  6. Yeeeessssss!!!!
    I actually have to post my first comment just to share my excitement with you all (after having lurked around for ages) :D
    I honestly believe that this could be HUGE for Austria!
    Over the last few days, Conchita was publicly called a “monster” by an Austrian comedian, of course giving our right-wing politicians a chance to jump right on track, Salzburg’s auxiliary bishop Laun once again justified not legalizing same-sex adoption by using arguments such as a higher risk of sexual abuse and calling adoption by gay couples misogynistic (???) and the higher administrative court ruled against a lesbian couple who wanted to become foster-parents and even denied them the right to file an appeal.
    And today, our main tv-channel broadcasted an absolutely beautiful and classy show about Conchita’s rise to fame – including a trip to her little mountain village hometown in full drag and wonderful comments by her parents – at p r i m e t i m e , and then Conchita Wurst, an openly gay drag artist actually goes and wins the ESC!!!

    IN

    YOUR

    FACE

    !!!!!!!!

    • I saw that and I thought the comments by the parents were amazing. To have a couple in full on traditional dress saying how proud they are of their child and that both Tom and Conchita are part of the family was a great thing.

    • This comment makes me happy and I hope you leave lurkdom forever!

  7. so from what i’ve seen, conchita identifies as genderqueer… http://www.bubblews.com/news/3281807-eurovision-song-contest-2014-austrian-genderqueer-drag-entry-conchita-wurst-creates-conflict-and-condemnation-but-remains-2nd-favourite-and-wins and there’s a few more articles if you google it. from what i understand (i haven’t seen it yet) it was a drag performance, but i was just thinking it might be important to note that conchita is not a cisgender drag queen, but identifies as genderqueer or as part of the trans community

  8. Slightly less embarrassed by Belgium’s entry this year- I mean, an ode to maternal love is always nice- but that is really not saying much. Last year’s was awful. AWFUL.

    • If it makes you feel any better, the song wasn’t written by Belgians – the songwriters were British and Spanish. He looked like such a nice guy I just wanted to hug him (the introductory video for Belgium was super cute and the “green room” is in public view of the audience, so you could see every emotion leading up to the results) but holy fuck was that back-up dancer (his “mother”) creepy.

      • You know in an odd way i actually loved her- like, it was actually kind of nice to see an older woman presented as the eye-catching backup dancer, and anyway Eurovision needed some sorceress vibes since Loreen wasn’t there to provide them. Loreen can head up my coven anytime.

      • WHOA why didn’t these guys win?? With the exception of ridiculous amounts of glitter/shiny, this pretty much has EVERYTHING I look for in a Eurovision performance: the song makes next to no sense, there is tacky (synchronised!) dancing, weird instruments, and everyone looks unreasonably happy.

    • Yeah let’s please make this also a post about how Fikri is wonderful and also Fikri’s hair is magi it’s like the trailing clouds around the moon on an incredibly beautiful night.

      • Aw you guys, I don’t know where this is coming from (if I couldn’t see your IP addresses I’d just have assumed that my girlfriend decided she’s gonna go by “Audrey” now… twice) but me and my hair are very flattered. <3 I am not, however, completely back yet! I will be soon.

        • Maybe your girlfriend is a very clever traveler+computer thief+identity thief? (but she’s not, you’re just great!)

  9. So! Important! To note! That! She’s! Not! A! Drag! Queen! She identifies as non-binary, from what I heard, and this moment is a good opportunity to promote non-binary visibility. Could you fix this please? Thanks :)

    • Someone can be non-binary and also be a drag queen/king. The two are not mutually exclusive.

      I’m very happy Conchita won, she seems like a terrific person and gave an impassioned performance. Her winning, especially with what’s going on in much of Eastern Europe, makes an important statement. I’m not happy about the frequent references to Dana International (including in this article). Why should Dana be mentioned as being proud of Conchita? She isn’t a drag queen. There are lots of other LGBTQ people who’ve won/competed in Eurovision, why is Dana automatically brought out? I’m sure there are a lot of performers (including straight/cis ones) who are proud of Conchita. Unfortunately, I think there’s still a LOT of conflating trans women with drag queens (and I’m specifically talking about people who do drag strictly as a performance and aren’t 24/7) and that’s not okay no matter how great Conchita is.

      • Totally agree about name-dropping Dana International. Conchita isn’t the first successful drag queen performer, so why aren’t we invoking their names as proud predecessors??

      • Thank you for raising this – I’ve removed the reference to Dana International. I think people (including me) bring it up because while plenty of other LGBTQ people have participated in Eurovision, they’re still the only two winners who fall under the trans banner (and thus their wins have been very similarly received), and Conchita has said that Dana was an inspiration while also stressing that they’re coming from different places. It was unfair of me to assume that Dana would associate herself with Conchita.

  10. What I don’t understand is why all this sodomy outrage wasn’t international news when Verka Serduchka came in 2nd place in 2007 for Ukraine. Like, c’mon Russians, you loved her so what’s the deal with Conchita? Is it the beard?

    (It’s probably the beard)

    • Verka Serduchka did face quite a bit of backlash though! Especially when compared to Denmark’s DQ, who participated in the same year. I’m guessing at least part of it is because 2007 was 7 years ago now (I know, right) so we weren’t as hyperconnected then as we are now, but yes – I think it’s mainly the beard too.

      • Oh, I’m aware of the backlash, but I guess it’s odd that now I’m seeing North American media cover this “WHOA RUSSIA IS LIKE SUPER HOMOPHOBIC ABOUT THIS DRAG QUEEN, GUYZ” now when the same situation has already happened? Or maybe it reflects how Russia has gotten much much worse in the 7 years since Serduchka performed. Either way, I just kept rolling my eyes at the hyperbole surrounding Wurst from the Russian corner.

  11. I loved the fact that the Austrian presenter who announced the votes was wearing a Conchita-style beard.

  12. Eurovision is genuinely my TV highlight of the year. Last night was the most memorable in a long time and I think it was really important.

    I actually preferred the Netherlands song a tiny bit, but Conchita’s win sends such a powerful message.

    If you’ve been watching the semi-finals you’ll have noted that the script crammed in a tonne of references to how happy Denmark were to acknowledge the gay audience, and the number of Pride flags seemed to have grown exponentially since last year.

    I felt sorry for the Russian performers – after all, the terrible treatment LGBTQ people there, as well as the annexation of Crimea are not events of their making – but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t give me all sorts of feels about how the tide is turning and that things are going to get better.

    And on a lighter note, wasn’t the stage AMAZING? Wow!

    • Pilou Asbæk has said he was disallowed from wearing rainbows because it isn’t supposed to be “political” (right) but Copenhagen was definitely playing to the LGBTQ crowd (or more cynically, pink dollar – I’m gonna admit it worked on me): a lot of the Eurovision-related events, including the mass marriage spectacle, were specifically LGBT-themed and they had a dedicated Pride Square. While I definitely appreciate the visibility, I’m still personally really, really conflicted on waving the rainbow flag at these things, especially coming from a country where anti-gay laws are still in effect – being in that environment in person was both affirming and alienating. Homonationalism (“we treat queers better than you” = “we’re more civilised”) often disguises racism and imperialism, and the hosts pretty much illustrated this with repeatedly stressing how cool they were with the gay while also making orientalist jibes throughout the finals.

  13. I haven’t read anything that clearly states they identify as transgender or non-binary, instead of people assuming they must be the case because of how they look – and they only use female pronouns when in drag.

  14. Hat

    Have to say it felt good to be in one of the countries that gave Conchita 12 points, the missus and I both voted for her and apparently so did loads of other Brits. I live in a part of a relatively large northern rural town where house windows are currently filled with BNP (in honesty the folks across the road always have these up) and UKIP posters and it’s nice to be reminded that the whole country isn’t made up of fascists. I know in my head that it isn’t but being faced with them every day does start to grind you down.

    • BNP? I thought they had kind of imploded, it will be interesting to see how they do in the North this time. I don’t think they’ll keep any seats- the ever-so-slightly-less-bad UKIP will probably make gains though.

      • Hat

        Oh that BNP poster over the road has been up for like 10 years. I think UKIP got a seat from our ward last year, so yeah it’s a frickin delight. Ugh.

  15. Confession: I’m a Yank who’s main guilty pleasure is Eurovision.

    Thank you for mentioning the dykey vibe from Germany’s lead. I felt it too, as soon as they showed the clip when they listed the countries that were automatically in the final (and I now have a crush on her…).

    And I absolutely loved Iceland’s entry! Those guys are fantastic (even if the song itself was pretty cheesy). They did a great cover of Blur’s Girls and Boys while they were in Copenhagen for the competition: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GnHmEd4sQcQ

  16. Conchita’s voice reminds me a lot of Adam Lambert which means I loved that performance!! Very fierce.

  17. i adore this – Conchita’s in-your-face gayness&drag win is a wonderful middle finger to Russia’s anti-gay attitudes, ity really couldn’t have been a more powerful message. Besides her song is genuinely good.

    DI is not ‘proud’ though. DI, being a straight binary woman, ‘approves’.

  18. Possibly the best thing about this whole bit was when Austria was giving points and their newsperson (newslady?) was wearing a fake beard. Adorable.

  19. Yay at Eurovision love! Most of my friends can’t understand my love for it. (The common comment is “It’s so over the top and tacky.” Me, “IT’S FABULOUS! AND I LOVE IT”)

    While I was rooting for Conchita Wurst all the way, I thought the Netherlands entry was pretty good if a little safe boring. (Also did anyone else think it sounded a bit like a Sting and the Police song?) I also muffled my screaming as the votes tallied for Conchita since it was 6amish my local time then, and I didn’t want to wake the household.

    I follow a lot of British comedians and celebs on twitter and it was great to see the outpouring of Eurovision discussion. I must find a way to Europe to attend an Eurovision viewing party at some point because it just seems so fun!

    • So cool to see N Americans taking interest in the Eurovision. I love the NL song – not very Eurovisiony though. Conchita’s good too but there’s no doubt I voted politically.

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