‘I fear I don’t see the end of it in my lifetime,’ says Conchita Wurst.
Austria’s bearded transvestite crowned Eurovision queen Conchita Wurst returned home on Sunday to a jubilant welcome, vowing to use her newfound fame to promote tolerance.
“This will remain an issue for a long time and I fear I won’t see the end of it in my lifetime,” said Wurst, who captured Europe’s imagination at this year’s edition of the song contest.
“It will be my life’s work and I gladly take it on,” the 25-year-old drag queen, who is also known as Tom Neuwirth, told reporters in Vienna.
“Yesterday was not just a victory for me but a victory for those people who believe in a future that can function without discrimination and is based on tolerance and respect.”
Wurst’s participation in the contest had sparked controversy ahead of the finals in Copenhagen, with petitions running in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine for her to be dropped from the competition.
Her win was also greeted by an outpouring of scorn from Russian politicians and stars.
But at Vienna airport, the waifish singer was greeted by a jubilant crowd that went wild when she stepped into the arrivals terminals in a flowing pale pink skirt and jeans vest.
At least 1,000 fans – some of them wearing painted beards on their face, including women and children – had been waiting for hours, playing Wurst’s anthem Rise like a Phoenix non-stop and singing along at the top of their lungs, while waving Austrian and rainbow signs and banners that read “We love you!” and “Conchita Queen of Love + Tolerance”.