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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:

1

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.

4

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.

2

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.

5

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.

6

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.

7

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.

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9 Comments

  1. Zack

    September 16, 2013 at 12:30

    Thanks Gerry:
    You will see that once the song comes out, people may change their minds. But the damage will already have been done.
    Let’s face it. We are still in a world where if you are singing at eurovision and you aren’t White, fit, attractive, and heteronormative, you’re gonna get judged. The Rounder Girls and Gaitana could flack for not representing their countries? Ridiculous!

  2. Roy van der Merwe

    September 16, 2013 at 18:17

    Eurovision was always for me about NON STEREOTYPES.

  3. Evangeline

    September 16, 2013 at 18:28

    Re: AUSTRIA 2014 – Conchita Wurst
    I have read the article and I must say that the editor is overreacting. He is looking very one-sided at the comments. I know that sexuality and gender are very sensitive topics people are easily offended by, yet I do not see why the six commenters are ‘bad humans’ themselves. The editor also misinterprets them.

    The first comment is an excellent example. The editor claims that she called Conchitta a freakshow, but she didn’t. She says Eurovision is becoming a freakshow. I wonder, is a man that dresses like a woman without shaving his beard off to be called normal? I definitely wouldn’t say so. I don’t mean it offensively, I just want to make clear that this act isn’t what people call normal. I also want to make clear that a circus isn’t animal-only, think of acrobats and clowns. I understand why people start calling Eurovision a freakshow with this kind of acts. It isn’t what you see normally, therefore, it is different. Freak = different.

    I also understand Manel’s comment, yet I wouldn’t use the word ‘gay’. The editor is claiming again something that the commenter doesn’t say AT ALL. The commenter says that he wants eurovision to think of the non-gay fans, while he understands why everything is so ‘gay’. The editor radically changes it in “Everyone must be straight!” This is purely exaggeration from his side.

    I think I have made my point clear. I understand the opinions from both the editor and the commenters. Only the editor morphs the commenters opinion into something he can counter with the ‘You don’t like gays so you’re a bad person’-attitude. He is exactly what he claims the others to be. He is only focusing on his opinion and isn’t trying to understand the opinion of the commenters. I don’t want to hurt his feelings, he just needs to understand that he isn’t fair towards them.

    I, myself, am pro-gay etc., yet I do understand the opinions of anti-gay people and accept them. Everyone is allowed to have his own theories.

  4. AshleyWright

    September 16, 2013 at 18:32

    I read it as well and i have to agree it is very one sided, and exaggerates the point a lot.

  5. Gerry Avelino

    September 16, 2013 at 20:23

    Evangeline:

    I am most definitely not overreacting. If these commenters had said the same thing of a Black performer, or a woman, my reaction would have been fine. But an artist who crosses gender lines for their performance isn’t allowed to be defended?

    For the first comment, of course a woman with a beard isn’t something usual. Is it ok to say it’s not normal? That’s one thing the LGBT community wants: to not be viewed as others, and to be just seen as regular human beings. Granted, the commenter did not call Conchita herself a freak, but it was heavily implied in her comment. “Freak = different” doesn’t cut it for me here. Nobody wants to be called a freak just because they’re different.

    As for Manel’s comment, when he says please think of the non-gay fans, he heavily implies that straight-presenting is the only way for Eurovision to accomplish this. What do you think was this commenter’s mindset when he made that comment? Conchita is only one out of likely over 30 contestants next year, and yet that one bit of representation is too much for Manel to handle.

    If all you saw in this opinion piece (which, by the way, would of course be opinionated) was that the poor straight people’s feelings were hurt because I didn’t take the time to understand their plight, instead of the research and evidence I showed to prove these commenters wrong, shame on you. Of course they can be good people otherwise even if they don’t like gay people. But that doesn’t mean they should make comments like this to openly display their bigotry.

    There is a hard line between tolerance and bigotry, and these six commenters crossed the line. There is no space in today’s world to accommodate such views. You may think it’s different, or that it violates your religion, but who cares? Like I said, it’s the individual’s life being affected, not theirs. I will not yield on this matter.

  6. rajo

    September 16, 2013 at 21:19

    I think Conchita is absolutely adorable and she doesnt deserve that shit thrown upon her.

    When Conchita took part in the German reality TV show “Wild Girls on High Heels in Africa” each and every other contestant fell in love with her and she won every fanpoll on the Internet.

    Her voice is absolutely stunning too….

    And now look at that: Conchita rocks the catwalk as well

    http://images.derstandard.at/2013/09/15/1378290014792-milk01.jpg

    Where does the hate come from? Because of her trademark the beard? IMHO she is the most legitimate gendercrosser on the planet. She doesn’t look like an awful mess like the rude Olivia Jones, who looks like an elephant in drag or the Danish singer DQ with her stereotypical bird/clown crossover drag.

    Conchita has a perfect style, is beautiful from the inside as well and can actually sing really well….. “That’s what I am” was my guilty pleasure last year….. irresistibly well sung!

    If she wasn’t from Austria, but from Israel, Turkey or the ex-SSR she would be the big favourite……..

    I wouldnt mind if she failed yet again to proceed to the finals, but at least her Eurovision dream already came real.

  7. Matt Friedrichs

    September 16, 2013 at 21:45

    I’m no fan of her music (purely based on her 2012 effort) but that’s where it ends for me. Why is that once you don’t find into the gender drawer created by mainstream society, you’re immediately considered a freak, an attention whore etc?

    Whether or not you agree with Conchita, she does not deserve that kind of hatred.

  8. Andreas

    October 16, 2013 at 16:28

    It is funny & sad at the same time: all these people expect respect & tolerance BUT not able to do so themselves.

    The world & human beings are not only black & white, they are colourful and that is wonderful in my eyes.

    And I wonder why there was such an outrageous interest for Verka everywhere in Helsinki and now it would be a problem with a similar act? For whom?

    If they don’t like her, don’t watch her. As simple as that.

  9. Hermann Gogh

    May 11, 2014 at 17:53

    Oh yes? How about remembering that the truth will set you free? And how about realizing that this mutant comes straight from hell to insult us real people of this world and the real beauty of men and women ???

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