The Eurovision Contest is known for its eccentricity and gay representations are not new, but Wurst’s performance was particularly unique. Though wearing long, curled hair, full makeup, and a beautiful gown all culturally signifying female, she also had a full beard, a secondary sex characteristic associated with males.
The song “Rise Like a Phoenix” holds additional meaning when sung by Wurst. The lyrics “Peering from the mirror No, that isn’t me Stranger getting nearer Who can this person be You wouldn’t know me at all today” and “Once I’m transformed Once I’m reborn I rise up to the sky You threw me down but I’m gonna fly And rise like a phoenix” can all be read as referencing gender ambiguity or transformation. Neuwirth has stated “Conchita Wurst” is his drag persona and he does not identify as transgender, though, like many drag queens, uses ‘she’ pronouns when in character. Wurst’s genderqueer performance was attacked by the Russian Orthodox church as an “abomination” and Vladimir Putin as “aggressive” because non traditional gender identity was “put…up for show”.
In her acceptance speech, Wurst stated “This night is dedicated to everyone who believes in a future of peace and freedom. You know who you are. We are unity and we are unstoppable.”
Last week there has been a twitter argument centered around Assata Shakur, a black feminist who was convicted of the murder of a state trooper, escaped prison, and now has political asylum in Cuba. The Women’s March tweeted a happy birthday message to Assata on July 16th.
Assata Shakur is a bit of a flash point for the “alt-right.” This tweet was seen as legitimizing arguments of white supremacists. The Women’s March responded with a series of 20 tweets explaining who Assata is and why they support her. COINTELPRO, or the counter intelligence program of the FBI, became a talking point and some other journalists entered the discussion.
The Politically Reactive podcast with W. Kamau Bell and Hari Kondabolu was in an interesting situation. On July 13th they aired an interview with Linda Sarsour, the most well known of the Women’s March organizers, and the following week were scheduled to air an interview with Jake Tapper. The podcasters reached out to both after the twitter argument but did not hear back. They thought it would be inappropriate to simply air the second interview and instead made an episode “Hold Up, Wait a Minute: Twitter Feuds & Threat Models” featuring Prof. Jessie Daniels of Hunter College and CUNY College and cyber security expert Nicholas Weaver.
The documentary Paris is Burning is a particularly important record of LGTQ people of color in New York in the 1980s. More specifically, the film is about the ballroom subculture, made up primarily of young, disenfranchised LGTQ POC gathering to “walk” and dance (where “voguing” comes from) in costume. The film has had a lasting impact on current vernacular, such as “shade,” “kiki,” and “realness.”