You may be wondering what is Eurovision? I did not know what it was until last year when one of my European friends introduced it to me with this awesome music video. Eurovision is a annual singing competition. Each country in the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) has their own selection process and then sends one act to perform at the Eurovision competition.
Austria chose Conchita Worst for the 2014 competition. Conchita is the first bearded woman to compete. She also won. Now you might be wondering what gender does Conchita choose to identify as? Paris Lees from the Guardian explains it well
Conchita is a clue as to what this gender diversity might look like in practice. “She” is actually a boy called Tom. Conchita is his lady persona, a strangely compelling mix of Katy Perry and Jesus, but it’s female pronouns, please, when the lashes are on – and male ones when they come off. Confused? This is gender fluidity and you’d better get used to it.
This means that she is a girl when she is Conchita and a boy when he is Tom. Conchita explained it as
It’s obvious for example that when I am Conchita, I use the female toilet, and when I am Tom, the male toilet. I can assure you it’s never a problem for women, they love it.
Now that you understand who Conchita is, we can move on to the contest, where she took first place with her song Rise Like a Phoenix.
It is a very fitting song that not only represents the romance aspect from the song, but also her own personal transformation and all she’s dealt with on the long road to winning Eurovision 2014.
Although she was able to overcome her struggles and ultimately win, it was not without controversy. As you might imagine there were some conservative countries that were less than pleased with her entry into the competition. Russia, Belarus and Armenia protested her entry. Russian politician Vitaly Milonov even wrote to the Russian Eurovision selection committee asking them to boycott her entry by not sending Russian contestants to this year’s competition.
Despite their governments displease, the citizens were not dissuaded from supporting the Austrian contestant.
I compiled the above map from the Eurovision Finale voting. As you can see all of the yellow countries, which include the three countries mentioned above, rated Conchita much higher than their Jury voters. It can be expected that the Jury voters would be under more pressure to vote how their government expects because they can be identified. The Televoters can be expected to vote how they feel because it is anonymous.
This shows just because people live in a conservative nation does not mean they necessarily feel the same way. Hopefully, this is a sign that Europe (along with the rest of the world) will become more accepting of all people, bearded or not.