In 2014 the Eurovision Song Contest was won by Conchita Wurst from Austria. Conchita Wurst is the drag persona of Tom Neuwirth. “Conchita” is Spanish slang for vulva / vagina and “Wurst” is German slang for penis.
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.”