Eurovision 2014 had a lot of people on tenterhooks; with the political unrest in Russia it was thought that the East may split and support our home country and as a result GB may do better than it had in previous years. Eurovision has it’s roots in drawing the countries of Europe together; first broadcast in 1956, it’s long been obvious that nations often vote for their allies and neighbours and this years atmosphere seemed very different as a result.
Eurovision 2014 was more than political
The political undertone was less subtle than previous and Russia were booed at the semi-finals. There was speculation as to whether this was because of the present friction or, Eurovision famously camp, a protest about the recent anti-gay laws and attitudes publicised across the world following the comments made prior to the Winter Olympics 2014.
Austria’s 2014 entry, Conchita Wurst, a “bearded lady” came in first on the night with 290 points. My interest had been piqued following seeing her on the semi-finals and then hearing about her on BBC’s The One Show, where I was surprised to hear Matt Baker refer to Conchtia as “He”, although the night before I had heard Conchita refer to herself as a lady and assumed she therefore identified as a woman; in fact, I was incorrect and, although she utilises female pronouns, she identifies as Gender Neutral. I’d worried if the hate that she had suffered might spread through Europe like wildfire or that people would just simply not understand her.
Of course, a transvestite won Eurovision back in 1998, but Dana International was different to Conchita in that she looked like the other female acts; easily recognisable as a woman and beautiful- not that Conchita is not, in fact she is extremely beautiful. However, by conforming to the norm, even as a minority, it was easy to forget that Dana had not been born a woman. Conchita’s beard prevents that from being the case, and yet it seems that people saw past it anyway.
Some people had binned the bookies favourite and eventual winner off as a gimmick before she’d even started. Whether that was the case or not, even Conchita as a symbol is profoundly important. She stands for understanding and acceptance, first and foremost of trans people but also for anyone who’s different and doesn’t fit into the music industry, Celebrity, glossy magazine mould of perfection or anything that society might have us think we must adhere to.
What if Europe was just giving a collective 2 fingers to Russia and the hatred of LGBT people? Whatever the motive, it’s equally important and shows that we, not as a nation, not even a continent but as the human race, are finally on the way to accepting others whatever they may or may not be.
On the night the James Bond Theme-esque song proved a hit and Conchita stormed the votes. In an interview with Eurovision she had said that she stood for tolerance and acceptance, and by voting for someone who wasn’t the usual it seemed Europe would be too. When the votes poured in, Conchita’s reaction was heartwarming and moving; she has the gift of being extremely likeable and has achieved something very special this evening.