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Once news broke on Twitter of Conchita Wurst’s participation in Copenhagen for the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest, I immediately knew that I could expect tons of unwarranted hatred for Austria’s choice. When someone who doesn’t look like the norm takes center stage, as Conchita does with her genderbending femininity-plus-beard combo, the judgmental and closed-minded emerge like clockwork. They’re like cicadas: loud and annoying.
As such, I’ve taken this opportunity to call out intolerant fans of their bigotry. I didn’t need to go far to find a handful of comments from these vitriolic individuals. The following are taken straight from the comments section of Eurovision.tv’s Conchita Wurst announcement:
Nothing screams intolerance like calling a person a “freakshow”! Here we have JoyceV from the Netherlands, who thinks that performers like Conchita deserve to be in a circus, comparing a human singer to performing animals. Nobody should ever be compared to animals. The way Conchita presents herself doesn’t merit disrespect of that level.
JoyceV also poses the question of why Eurovision isn’t taken seriously, to which I throw a question back: Why can’t you take performers like Conchita Wurst seriously? After all the gimmick performances of the past ages, from the Buranovskiye Babushki to Dschinghis Khan, why is it only now, with Conchita Wurst, that you begin to understand that Eurovision is a “freakshow”? Is it because Conchita doesn’t fall into the standard “male” or “female” box intolerant people force upon the non-conforming? Is it because she has both long hair and a beard? Eythor Ingi better watch out, then.
JoyceV’s friend here, Manel, thinks that having Conchita in the contest makes everything super gay. Oh, won’t anyone think of the non-gay fans?! It’s not like they’re already represented enough in Eurovision! Everyone who participates in this contest must be cisgender and heterosexual, no exceptions! They have to at least not look gay!
Well, newsflash, Manel, the last openly non-straight person who performed at Eurovision was bisexual Duncan James who performed as part of the boyband Blue for the UK three contests ago in 2011. Before that was openly gay Gordon Heuckeroth, part of Netherland’s De Toppers in 2009. It’s not something terrible for LGBT fans, who are a good percentage of the entire fanbase, to want representation, maybe this time from a solo act. In fact, it would be absolutely amazing if there were more LGBT artists in the contest. Eurovision is all about diversity, and this not only means nations and cultures, but also genders and identities. The way people present themselves is part of who they are.
Also anyone who implies that there’s something wrong with Dana International is a terrible person in my book.
At least Glitglam from Belgium likes Austria’s choice. However, the choice of words in this comment leaves much to be desired. Of course Conchita is a human being. If you were referred to by another person as “this” as if you were an object instead of a person, you would for sure be offended. Do not call people things, no matter how different they may be.
MrEurovision from Australia thinks Austria just embarrassed themselves. Hope he sees the irony in the fact that he’d just embarrassed himself with his intolerant opinion. Sick burns with that “worst” pun there, MrEurovision! How very original of you. At least that “woman with a beard” doesn’t shame people for the way they present themselves.
Eurovision is all about the music, right? Well, FlorinSuciu from Romania doesn’t think so. After all, Conchita has yet to release her song for Eurovision 2014 and he already thinks she won’t qualify. The age-old saying is perfect for this situation: don’t judge a book by its cover.
Last we have Faezdel from Argentina, who sees no difference between Conchita Wurst and Spain’s infamous Rodolfo Chikilicuatre, whose song “Baila Chiki Chiki” epitomized the concept of gimmicky entrants in the 2000’s. I personally have no idea whether there is another Conchita Wurst Faezdel watches considering Conchita’s best hits are as far from “Baila Chiki Chiki” as Verka Serduchka is from Loreen.
Conchita’s highest-viewed performance on YouTube is her rendition of the emotional 1997 Titanic theme song “My Heart Will Go On”, which has over 750,000 views. An original song of hers comes next, “Unbreakable”, with over 200,000 views. Heartfelt and uplifting, “Unbreakable” is most definitely not a gimmick. How dreadful, hm? A comedy act singing cliche songs? You are so wrong, Faezdel.
What all these commenters, and all the other Eurovision fans who think the same, fail to realize is that Conchita Wurst, as a performer, aims to bring tolerance and acceptance to the forefront of her music. Isn’t that what the point of Eurovision is, after all? The contest is meant to bring people together, not divide.
The fact that there are still reactions like the above in today’s world show that we still have a long way to go towards acceptance of people’s gender identities. Straight and straight-acting isn’t the entire world. Everybody should have the chance to be happy. It’s not like performers such as Conchita Wurst have such a devastating effect on an individual’s personal life. She isn’t hurting anyone, and she just wants to use her art to show people that there’s nothing wrong with being who you are.
The six individuals above, as well as everyone else with such intolerant thoughts, need to take a look at Conchita’s “That’s What I Am”: “Words are hollow when said while you follow someone else’s rules that are for shallow fools.” Don’t be a shallow fool, change your point of view; This is who Conchita is, and nothing will change what she’s meant to be.
Feature image courtesy conchitawurst.com, photo by Paz Stammler Photography.