More than 31,000 people have liked the “Anti-Wurst” Facebook page, protesting ORF’s selection of Conchita Wurst for Eurovision 2013. That’s 12,000 more than like the official Conchita Wurst fan page at the moment. Another 3,100 have signed a petition calling on ORF to rethink its decision. Looking at those numbers, it seems that hate is winning the day.

Fans of the page have described the selection of Conchita—born Tom Neuwirth—as “trashy”, “a joke”, “foolish”, “embarrassing” and “disgusting”. The most repeated gag, which has been circulating on Twitter and Facebook, is that Austria has made the “wurst” decision possible. A minority of readers on our site have thrown wood into the fire. “Omg. I won’t be able to sleep after I saw this photo…Where is this world going?” one user wrote. Another suggested that sensationalism drove ORF’s thinking. “So this is how Eurovision 2014 begins…with a very ‘musical-oriented’ choice…Well I only have one comment to state: Österreich? Desperate much?”

Conchita WurstOthers have protested ORF’s decision to select their Eurovision candidate internally. “It is unacceptable that a public broadcaster, that lives off the fees its charges Austrians, completely and arbitrarily makes decisions over the heads of those who finance it,” one critic wrote on the anti-sausage Facebook page. But would this reader be crying foul if ORF had chosen a woman in a dress instead? We’re pretty sure he wouldn’t. In this instance, complaining about the selection process is a roundabout way of saying he doesn’t like a bearded lady.

The uproar over Conchita has nothing to do with the selection process and everything to do with transphobia. It’s the same narrow-minded thinking that encourages people to harass effeminite men and masculine women. It’s fed by ignorance, and an inability to see any gray between all the black and white. It also goes against the values of Eurovision — to bring nations and people together regardless of their background.

Conchita understands all of this and she’s taking the high road. Writing on her Facebook page, she made it clear she doesn’t want to be pitied. “I can live well beause tastes are different today,” she wrote. Miss Wurst doesn’t have time for hate and has pledged to stay true to her values.

I will continue to fight against discrimination and for tolerance. I am convinced that in the 21st Century really EVERY person has the right to live as he wants, as long as no one else is injured or limited in his freedom. And as far as I know I did not hurt anyone.

XOXO Conchy … oh and i love you all

The majority of our readers share that love. As a user named Alex wrote:

Kudos to Austria for this bold and brave choice! ESC has always been more than just a song contest. Political messages and statements for tolerance, love and peace amongst the people of Europe have always played a role in this contest in some way or the other. In times where barbaric laws are being enforced in Russia and people are persecuted and beaten up because of their sexuality, Conchita Wurst acts as a wonderful ambassador, fighting for a little more love around the world.

And that’s why it’s so important that ORF sticks by its decision and stands by Conchita. Her selection sends a powerful message of inclusion.

As we’ve seen in the past, the outrage is often much less memorable than the outcome. In 1998 some Orthodox Jews were aghast when transsexual Dana International (born Yaron Cohen) won the right to represent Israel at Eurovision. Members of Parliament even sought to have her Eurovision opportunity revoked. The message of her single “Diva” scared them because it conveyed the hope that the transgender community could find strength through struggle: “She is all you’ll ever dream to find/ On her stage she sings her story/ Pain and hurt will set her heart alight/ Like a queen in all her glory.” Europe was moved at the final and crowned her the winner. “My victory proves God is on my side,” she said afterward. “I want to send my critics a message of forgiveness … I am part of the Jewish nation.” “Diva” went on to sell more than 400,000 copies worldwide and made the Top 10 in five European countries.

It’s too early to know if Conchita can replicate Dana’s success. We have not yet heard her song, and Austria does not have the best track record at Eurovision. But it doesn’t matter. By appearing at Eurovision Conchita is creating a space for herself — and other gender-variant people — on Europe’s biggest stage. The lyrics to her 2012 song “That’s What I Am” seem even more stirring two years on.

That’s what I am, that’s what I’ll always be
I don’t wanna be silent ’cause this is my destiny
That’s what I was, that’s what feels good to me
And nothing will change me, that’s what I’m meant to be.

You can read our 2012 interview with Conchita Wurst by clicking here. Then keep up-to-date on the latest Eurovision news and gossip by following the team on Twitter @wiwibloggs and by liking our Facebook page.

Photo: Conchita Wurst

 

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Guest

I’d like to thank you for the efforts you have put in writing this blog.
I am hoping to view the same high-grade blog posts from you later on as well.
In truth, your creative writing abilities has motivated me to get my own
blog now 😉

Saif
Guest
Saif

I wonder what your parents or the Jewish community think of you Conchita Wurst ?
You’re a bit of a ground breaker. Very reminiscent of the creators of Woodstock which was a shock to the culture in their time.

Peter Bering
Guest
Peter Bering

I want to be entertained by Europe’s best. Neuwirth and whoever wrote his melody certainly are not best. No country show their best in MGP anymore. In every country the media is being stirred from the US to hate and loathe the country’s music and instead serve up English trash across the board. This turns the popular vote into a charade, and the “expert” panel is just manipulated and US-brainwashed. MGP has turned into a sad attack on people and the promotion of small groups of deviants. We tolerate deviants, but we do not want our main popular music event… Read more »

William
Guest
William

Welcome to Europe!! Where policy and media control TV shows, we all know why this “very ugly woman or a weird looking man.” won, just to give LGBT more promotion.

Now stop blaming Arab world! Our media’s killing the freedom of Europe.

Tony
Guest
Tony

Conchita Wurst is actually a male, but he is a drag queen (dressing like a female).

Julian
Guest
Julian

This view is quite widespread I am afraid. And I have heard a lot of people from the music industry saying they couldn’t watch this act let alone leaving the kids watch. Other kept mumbling “please don’t let it win” or rooting for other songs. These people are those from which that the juries are made. That raises a question “Why was not Austria trashed by juries?”. Poland was for what they did. I am more than 90% sure that a lot of jurors if not entire juries would’ve trashed Austria yet they didn’t and most logical thought would be… Read more »

Kallia
Guest
Kallia

He/she/it says that he/she/it hasn’t hurt anybody. Then why did my 6 year old niece get scared and why did SHE start crying when SHE saw him/her/it?????? Who told this person that he/she/it can poison small children’s souls with its creepy and disgusting appearance and sexual disorientation???
What kind of society are we that we allow such anomaly being published on the media in hours that small children are watchin tv????
Next step will be the pedophile propaganda, uh??
Shame on anybody that supports this mostrosity.

Tsu
Guest
Tsu

I defend to the end Tom’s right to play a drag act as a woman with a beard, and with his right to make a political statement, and congratulations to him winning Eurovision in character as Conchita Wurst. However, I want to make the point that I find Conchita very ugly. In itself, that’s an utterly unimportant statement; but there are comments on this page and elsewhere which seem to suggest that we’re somehow obliged in the terms of sexual identity rights to have no negative opinion. I assert that there is no moral requirement for anybody to refrain from… Read more »

S
Guest
S

I hate this guy only because he’s mocking women everywhere. A girl with beard- classic mock act. He needs to find a different stage for his act, not an international song contest.

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eurovicious
Guest
eurovicious

Hi Stephen. As you correctly point out, drag queens and transgender people are completely different things. However, if drag queens are confused with trans people, it’s not the drag queens’ fault – it’s because of people’s ignorance. What we need is more education so that people understand the difference between cross-dressers, drag acts and trans people.

Bogdan Honciuc
Editor

Bottom line is, these people (who set up the anti-Conchita FB page) ARE transphobic, because they perceive her as transgender. Same with homophobia. If someone hates Cezar because they think “he’s gaaaay”, that doesn’t make them less homophobic just because he’s straight.

Zolan
Guest
Zolan

To Stephen’s point, people’s tendency to misuse these terms creates additional problems for the individuals to whom they apply. Clarifying the public discourse is a difficult and unwanted burden for minorities to undertake alone. To the best of my knowledge: Tom is not transgender, he is a gay man. Conchita is not a woman, she is (and I hope this term is acceptable) a bearded ladyboy. Tom is a man who dresses up as another kind of man. I don’t know whether that counts as transvestism, or the end of gender-specific dress codes, making the term obsolete. My default assumption… Read more »

Stephen Colville
Guest
Stephen Colville

@ Steinar

What you say makes a lot of sense, only thing I would say is that a drag act (Conchita) and a transgender person are completely different, and comparing the 2 isn’t a good idea.

Steinar
Guest

I don’t agree with this article! Hmmm….well. Maybe not very nice to put up a FB page AGAINST a person. BUT. I can understand it. To tell it as it is – I became quite disappointed – and angry – but this choice. Just like I was happy when she (I think that’s CW wants to be called?) failed to win the Austrian final 2012. She might be brave. She is allowed to do what she wants. And live like she wants. Fair enough. I don’t really mind drag acts, transgenders etc. I don’t LIKE it very much. But I… Read more »

AzeBoy
Guest
AzeBoy

I’m alright with this choice! I can’t understand people who’s against of him since theres no song. I can’t tell that I love or hate him! We don’t know what we will hear on ESC stage by him! By the way, its SONG contest! Most important is the song, not sexual life of the singer!

Anyways good luck to Conchita and Austria in 2014! 🙂

Sam "Sopon"
Guest

I know that Eurovision is a huge hotspot for the LGBT community, but I feel Wurst is possibly our weirdest candidate yet. One could not tell that Dana International is transgender until they found out, and Verka Serduchka is a joke character professionally performed by a straight man who is not a transvestite in real life. But this guy is completely different: an obvious transwoman with a beard and masculine voice in a bulging leotard. It can make people (including me) feel uncomfortable and, therefore, cost Eurovision some viewers.

Stephen Colville
Guest
Stephen Colville

@ D It doesn’t matter to me on a personal level, it matters to me because how it will be perceived, and how it will affect Eurovision. If he has the best song then I will be happy about that, but Eurovision is a show for the ears and eyes, so if people don’t like what their eyes are showing them, they probably won’t care what their ears say. @ euro I really don’t care one way or another about them, but I dislike when they get confused with transgender people. It doesn’t exactly help us when we are trying… Read more »

Charles
Guest
Charles

I praise the message everyone here is really standing for with this choice from ORF to participate with someone like Conquita Sausage (lol sorry couldn’t resist my sarcasm here on the word) and although this will stir attention in a positive way reenforcing a clear message of tolerance to all humans beings pretty much like Dana International did back in 1998 like a bomb … the only thing that upsets me from the point of view of someone’s watching this for its music is that this stir and mediatism overtakes the musical aspect of the show and in that sence… Read more »

eurovicious
Guest
eurovicious

Stephen, how do you feel about drag queens in general?

D
Guest
D

@Stephen
Why do you make such a big deal about this? What if Conchita has the best song in 2014, will you not root for her just because you don’t believe that she’s actually transgender? Why is her sexual identity so important to you? As Adele once said, “I make music for the ears, not the eyes”.

Stephen Colville
Guest
Stephen Colville

@ Jericho

Conchita is NOT transgender. He is transvestite, and the beard is purely a statement. If Tom Neuwirth identified as female, then I wouldn’t care about the beard, but his character is making a mockery of trans people and sets back the image of trans people by several decades.

Yasmin
Guest
Yasmin

Shall we get some facts into this debate? 1. For the past two years, the Austrian acts have not made it to the Final. 2. The public chose these two acts. 3. National Selection Finals cost money. 4. Conchita Wurst has the ability to be a good singer. 5. Conchita Wurst identifies as woman, and this woman has a beard. 6. Women can have beards. So what can we infer from these? ORF do not want to spend more money than they have to to send an act to Eurovision That people see Conchita Wurst as a joke is shameful;… Read more »

Jericho
Guest
Jericho

@Stephen: This has EVERYTHING to do with transphobia. Conchita is obviously gender-variant. Transgenderism takes many forms and just because Dana changed her genitals does not give her a MONOPOLY over this issue. Stop creating a hierarchy.

Stephen Colville
Guest
Stephen Colville

What does this have to do with transphobia? I am transgender and I am completely against this glorified drag act taking part. Conchita Wurst is NOT transgender. She is a character of Tom Neuwirth. She is a drag act.

It is entries like this that give Eurovision such a bad name in so many countries.

So please, stop comparing her to Dana. Dana is a trans woman and someone I have looked up to since I was a kid. Conchita is a man in drag with a beard. It is pure shock value.

Pablo Nava
Member

Add to that that Facebook it’s universal. It isn’t likely that it’s the voice of Austrians.

I’m dire sure she won’t be as controversial as PingPong.

Slavi
Guest
Slavi

@maxx: If homophobic/transphobic/bigoted means “normal” I’d rather not have “normal” people like you supporting anything. Jesus Christ, it’s 2013 people. Get your heads out of your asses.

Padraig Muldoon
Editor

Ok first off I know nothing about Conchita and the Austrian selection process, so apologies if parts of my comment seem a bit silly. All this fuss about Conchita making Eurovision too gay, how exactly? Now sorry if I’m wrong but is she not just a character played by Tom Neuwirth? In the same way that Silvia Night or Dustin the turkey were characters? Unlike Dana International who is actually a real person. And so what if she is giving the contest an extra bit of LGBT content? Although you can’t assume a man is gay just because he wears… Read more »

NathalieBazinga
Guest

I won’t complain if she/he shaves his/her beard of.

It scares the shit out of me like this.

Mike
Guest
Mike

Well if you don’t like a contestant because he/she (don’t know what to use in this case) makes not the kind of music you like, I understand. If you don’t like a contestant because they are different, you need to grow up!

maxx
Guest
maxx

All normal people in Europe are hoping, that ORF will change their opinion. I have nothing against homo singers, but this stupid image of woman with beard is really awkward and tacky. We want contest with quality and good singers, not with losers. Eurovision has reputation of LGBT contest with trashy songs, this Austrian choice will help with it. This person won’t go to the final of course, ORF, think about the majority’s opinion and don’t destroy the contest. Only 4% of population support this person.

Zack
Guest
Zack

Someone needs to write a report on how countries fund Eurovision. I am prone to believing that it’s mostly the tv channel so they have every right to. Then again how much do taxpayers front as well? The national selection is for tv ratings and giving viewers a voice. But it’s not a democracy, more like a monarchy and ORF is queen. Dunno correct me if I’m way off

eurovicious
Guest
eurovicious

I’m old enough to remember a not-dissimilar online reaction within Austria when The Rounder Girls were picked (again internally) back in 2000. The argument was they weren’t “representative” of Austria. (In other words, two of them were black and the song was motown in English – never mind that they were an established Vienna act.) Of course, that was before social media, but the comments section of the ORF site and various other sites were full of people throwing a hissy fit. The lesson: ignore people’s opinions.

Zolan
Guest
Zolan

@Bogdan. Well, ultimately only Conchita can say what really suits her.
What I’m saying is, “Yes. Be puzzling.” It’s more effective at getting people to challenge themselves than preaching. And it’s a better model of free expression than being obligated to “explain yourself” all the time.
I’m just biased toward the subtle angles rather than the clear ones.

Bogdan Honciuc
Editor

Any selection, internal or not, resulting in an out-of-the-box artist representing a country, is bound to be controversial. Cezar’s selection in Romania last year is another example; there still is a FB page demanding “the boycott of Selectia Nationala” because of the “ridiculous” rezult. ORF should definitely pay no mind to this kind of backward reaction from transphobic people who haven’t even heard the song. Anyway, I am quite sure that ORF expected some backlash. And I beg to differ with Zolan – a nondescript ballad would only make her appearance look puzzling to viewers who are not familiar with… Read more »

Arianna
Guest

Omgg that is terrible about that facebook page. I took a peek and there’s also 3000+ signatures on a petition. Ergh. Hope Tom is not looking at all that & just is himself, does what he enjoys and has a good time at Eurovision. Maybe this “hate-storm” will calm down. But ppl do have a right to their opinions, so I do not think it was nice to call out people here on Wiwi. They were not abusive comments, though maybe the guy who said he couldn’t sleep after seeing the photo should take more care :p But Conchita might… Read more »

Tiggeh
Guest
Tiggeh

Austria will make the final!

Julian
Guest
Julian

Not sure if Conchita can be compared with Dana. It would be like comparing a caricature with a painting, they are different genres and both can be good or bad. But a bad picture still can get much more votes than even a good caricature. As to Verka and the “lasha tumbai” message. The passion of that song comes from “holodomor” and many other sad stories I do not think Austria has anything that can remotely match those stories. And drag queens as a form of by-passing political censorship has deep roots of centuries in Eastern Europe. The Conchitas characters… Read more »

Slavi
Guest
Slavi

I agree that we should support Conchita. I think it’ll be an interesting thing for Eurovision, especially in a post-Dana world. Yeah, she may have won in 1998 and I am not quite sure how she pulled it off (let’s face it, she is not the best singer, so it must have been the novelty factor that wore off by 2011). However, she did do a full on transition male-female which is hailed as “successful.” Conchita obviously rubs people the wrong way cause of her gender-bending which is very obvious and blatant. I absolutely love that, but most people (obviously)… Read more »

D
Guest
D

Verka Serduchka got 2nd place for Ukraine in 2007 and Dana International won for Israel in 1998 and they were both transgender, plus Conchita’s song in the Austrian Selection Show in 2012 was absolutely amazing, she might be able to get Austria their best placing in recent years if she gets a decent song like the 2012 one, so all this hate on her is just really stupid and low of those people. This is 2013, not 1960! Stay strong Conchita, and you’ve already earned some points from me for doing so.

Alex
Guest
Alex

“I am quite sure that if Natalia Kelly had been internally selected there would also have been many complains.” Erm, no. Eric Papilaya was internally selected back in 2007 and there was absolutely no outcry whatsoever. What is happening in Austria at the moment is that a raging mob is targeting its malicious, bashful hatred at a person just because of her physical appearance. No one who witnesses it can deny it, and to bring forth such cowardly excuses as “we treat her the way we do because we were given no vote this time” is just despicable.

Astrikur
Guest
Astrikur

I am quite sure that if Natalia Kelly had been internally selected there would also have been many complains. The song gets better support if people have been involved or at least see that the best song of the available have been selected. In recent years it is very seldom that a internal selected song wins.

Zolan
Guest
Zolan

It would be disingenuous to claim that internal (as opposed to democratic) selection hasn’t been criticised on this blog on occasion. But those occasions too have been less about principle than attacking specific choices. In this case, I think Austrians have legitimate grounds to expect democratic representation, whatever their motives. That said, I’m in favour of ORF’s decision. In part, because of the delicious irony that it would make televising ESC illegal in Russia without hitting the “overtly political” barrier. My one condition is that the song avoid winks to gender-identity or didactic arguments around it. That simply comes across… Read more »

Marion
Guest
Marion

I already love Conchita !!!

Alex
Guest
Alex

I can’t wait to hear her song! I hope it will be something that will finally put Austria in top 10. All the best to Conchita! 🙂

Jericho
Guest
Jericho

Hear! Hear! It’s a brave choice and an interesting one. Way more interesting than Natalia Kelly or Nadine Beiler!!!