Don’t miss the bearded lady from Austria, said Julia Zemiro, the Australian SBS host for the Eurovision Song Contest. Oh God, I thought, an entrant more out of place in an international singing competition than the ice skater, the man in the hamster wheel or the trapeze artist I had already endured.
All I could think of was some odd carnival freak, plucked from a time when people paid money to gawk at dwarves, the co-joined twins and the elephant man.
When Conchita Wurst appeared on stage in a gold lamé gown, her eyes fringed in thick black eyelashes, her hair in long gentle waves, and her chin covered in a dark beard, she wasn’t a circus freak, she was a gorgeous, strange, mesmerising human being.
And when she opened her mouth to sing, the world stopped and held its breath. Conchita looked and sounded as beautiful as any musical theatre diva or contemporary pop star.
If you don’t believe me, take a look.
The best song of the night, but surely an Austrian drag queen sporting a beard couldn’t win? All through the results process, I had it in my head that either Sweden or the Netherlands would rally and overtake Conchita’s early lead. But country after country kept saying ‘twelve points go to … Conchita from Austria’. They all knew her name and they all voted for her.
Conchita Wurst, the strange and unusual drag queen won the Eurovision Song Contest.
I am grateful that last night, the people of Europe transcended distrust and hate and celebrated the talent and vulnerability Conchita Wurst displayed.
It gave me hope that this might be the tipping point, the place where our prejudices and preconceived notions are replaced by love and acceptance.
It gave me hope that the world is finally beginning to realise that beauty comes in other flavours besides vanilla and that difference has a grace and elegance all of its own.
Did you watch the Eurovision Song Contest?
Did you agree with the outcome?
Are you as hopeful as I am that things are a changin’?