Conchita Wurst – Rise Like A Pheonix

Austrian broadcaster ORF’s decision to send Thomas Neuwirth’s drag persona Conchita Wurst to Sweden as the country’s entrant in the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest created an outpouring of homophobia in social media, and serious attempts in both Belarus and Russia to have Austria’s performance blocked from broadcast on the night.

Conchita’s powerful performance of a rather cheesy ballad reminiscent of Bond themes sung by Shirley Bassey made the song a runaway winner, and catapulted its singer into a worldwide media whirlwind of interviews and appearances. Luckily, Conchita Wurst proved to be highly articulate and more than capable of handling the barrage of questions on everything from gay rights to Vladimir Putin, proving she was neither out of her depth nor arrogantly claiming to represent anyone but herself. Engaging and captivating a broad audience, she became a potent symbol of resistance against repression in countries such as Russia and of the growing confidence of the LGBTQI community in Western Europe.

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