Eurovision Crowns a Bearded Drag Queen

Conchita Wurst's win called 'victory for tolerance'

By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff | Suggested by RidersOnTheStorm

Posted May 11, 2014 12:51 PM CDT

(Newser) – The Eurovision Song Contest crowned a new winner yesterday, and she is making waves: Austrian singer Conchita Wurst—a bearded drag act who is the alter ego of 25-year-old Thomas Neuwirth—performed "Rise Like a Phoenix," won the trophy, and dedicated her victory "to everyone who believes in a future of peace and freedom," reports the BBC. She returned home to Austria today to something of a hero's welcome, notes the AP, with Austrian President Heinz Fischer calling her win "not just a victory for Austria, but above all for diversity and tolerance in Europe." Wurst had been criticized as an example of Western decadence and derided as "the bearded lady," adds RTE, but dismissed critics, saying, "Hey, I'm just a singer in a fabulous dress, with great hair and a beard."

Austrian singer Conchita Wurst attends a press conference in Vienna, Austria Sunday May 11, 2014.
Austrian singer Conchita Wurst attends a press conference in Vienna, Austria Sunday May 11, 2014.   (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)
Austrian singer Conchita Wurst  arrives with the trophy at the  airport in Vienna Sunday, May 11, 2014.
Austrian singer Conchita Wurst arrives with the trophy at the airport in Vienna Sunday, May 11, 2014.   (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)
Austrian singer Conchita Wurst attends a press conference in Vienna, Austria Sunday May 11, 2014.
Austrian singer Conchita Wurst attends a press conference in Vienna, Austria Sunday May 11, 2014.   (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)
Supporters of Austrian singer Conchita Wurst  celebrate during the singer's arrival at Vienna's Schwechat airport, Austria, Sunday, May 11, 2014.
Supporters of Austrian singer Conchita Wurst celebrate during the singer's arrival at Vienna's Schwechat airport, Austria, Sunday, May 11, 2014.   (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)
Conchita Wurst, who performed 'Rise Like a Phoenix,' hugs the trophy after winning the Eurovision Song Contest in Copenhagen, Denmark, Saturday, May 10, 2014.
Conchita Wurst, who performed 'Rise Like a Phoenix,' hugs the trophy after winning the Eurovision Song Contest in Copenhagen, Denmark, Saturday, May 10, 2014.   (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
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