• Austria edition
 
Austrian of the week
Austria's newest royal's triumphant return
Tom Neuwirth arriving at Vienna airport. Photo: APA

Austria's newest royal's triumphant return

Published: 11 May 2014 17:18 GMT+02:00
Updated: 11 May 2014 17:18 GMT+02:00

AFP/The Local - Austria's bearded transvestite crowned Eurovision queen Conchita Wurst returned home 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 Sunday 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".

Surrounded by an international media scrum, she lifted her Eurovision trophy in the air and smiled to the cameras.

"I don't really feel vindicated (against her critics). I believe everything happens for a reason," she said afterwards.

She insisted she was no "ambassador of tolerance... I'm just doing my little bit. This is what I was given and I feel it's my duty as an artist to work in that direction."

After her win on Saturday, Wurst cried out: "We are unity, and we are unstoppable."

"That was obviously meant for certain politicians whom we all know," she explained in Vienna. Asked if she meant Russian President Vladimir Putin, who last year signed a law banning "gay propaganda", she replied coyly "among others".

"It's the end of Europe"

Wurst's unusual persona sparked a backlash from eastern Europe and her win saw an outpouring of anti-gay anger from Russian politicians and stars on Sunday.

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin tweeted that the Eurovision result "showed supporters of European integration their European future: a bearded girl."

Russian nationalist politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky meanwhile predicted: "It's the end of Europe... They don't have men and women any more. They have 'it'."

But Wurst retorted that parents should just tell their children: "He's a young man who wears women's clothes and he wants to show that you don't need to be made fun of for that.

"I think if you say that, kids will understand. Children are far more mature than you might think," she said.

Austria erupted in joy Saturday as Conchita brought the country its first Eurovision victory in 48 years.

One local radio station played "Rise like a Phoenix" on loop 48 times over four hours on Sunday in honour of the win.

Further afield, stars like Lady Gaga and Boy George have also tweeted their support for her.

Cracking jokes, the "bearded lady" as she likes to call herself charmed the media crowd.

"I'm always asked when I first realised that I'd won. Next week I think," she said with a flutter of her long fake eyelashes.

Staff reporter (news@thelocal.com)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Food Safety
Mars chocolate drink recall spreads to Austria
The affected drinks may look like this. Photo: Mars Germany

Mars chocolate drink recall spreads to Austria

A recall of Mars brand chocolate drink products that affected Germany earlier this month over fears of contamination has now spread to Austria. READ  

Islamophobic attack on 84-year-old woman
IGGiÖ president Fuat Sanac. Photo: APA (Archiv/Fohringer)

Islamophobic attack on 84-year-old woman

An 84-year-old woman originally from Turkey wearing a traditional headscarf was kicked to the ground on Thursday afternoon in an attack that was clearly motivated by anti-Islamic sentiments, according to a press release from Austria's Islamic Religious Community Association (IGGiÖ). READ  

Holidays financed with black market mushrooms
Mushrooms. Photo: APA/HELMUT FOHRINGER

Holidays financed with black market mushrooms

Carinthia’s mountain guard says it has uncovered a thriving black market in mushrooms, with some travellers funding their holidays by selling some of the more desirable edible fungi to restaurants. READ  

Mountain bikers risk serious injury
Photo: Andy Armstrong

Mountain bikers risk serious injury

With the growth of mountain biking as a sport in Austria, hospital admissions for bike-related serious injuries have reached a high of 6,500 people per year. READ  

Traffic cops help deliver baby boy
Mother Silvi with her son and the two policemen. Photo: APA/Fohringer

Traffic cops help deliver baby boy

Police who stopped a man who ran several red lights in Rudolfsheim-Fünfhaus in Vienna took on more than they bargained for when it turned out the man’s wife was in labour. READ  

130 jihadists from Austria fighting abroad
Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner. Photo: APA/HANS PUNZ

130 jihadists from Austria fighting abroad

According to the Interior Ministry as many as 130 people from Austria are fighting as jihadists abroad, with some having returned to Austria, and some on their way to war zones. READ  

Scottish councillor's Austrian commute
Fife council headquarters in Glenrothes. Photo: McWesty/Wikimedia

Scottish councillor's Austrian commute

According to a report in The Scotsman newspaper, a Scottish National Party councillor called Arthur Morrison attended only seven out of the 47 meetings for the committee on which he serves last year. His excuse? He lives in Austria. READ  

Vienna's 'unpopular' tourist buses
One of the tourist buses. Photo: Wienwiki

Vienna's 'unpopular' tourist buses

A group of concerned residents in Vienna’s trendy 2nd district are complaining about the number of double decker tourist buses travelling through the area, saying that they are dangerous and that it shouldn’t be necessary for them to drive through small residential streets. READ  

Majority of drink driving accidents in August
A breathalyser test. Photo: APA/Techt

Majority of drink driving accidents in August

Balmy evenings sitting outside bars and lots of barbecues and bank holidays make summer in Austria a sociable time - and also the time of year when the most drink driving accidents happen. READ  

Austrian student finds baby in box in Brazil
File photo of a baby girl: APA

Austrian student finds baby in box in Brazil

An Austrian student living in Brazil found an abandoned baby in a box and saved its life. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
Horses rescued from burning barn
National
Why beggars are a problem for Vienna's street paper Augustin
Culture
'No one speak English to him!'
Sponsored Article
Gymboree - where playing and learning go hand in hand
National
The grassroots group working to unite Muslims and Jews
Society
Pink Lake festival attracts LGBT visitors
Gallery
Weirdest spa treatments: Fancy a session of full-body cryotherapy?
Society
The question of begging in Austria
National
Naked cyclist faces charges and told to wear clothes
International
Cop surrounded; busts a few moves
Society
Church porn star faces charges
Photo: APA/DPA
Gallery
The 12 best words in Austrian German
Tech
Austrian student launches class-action lawsuit against Facebook
Politics
Parliamentary speaker Prammer loses fight with cancer
National
Why Vienna is the capital of choice for spies
Society
Happy birthday, Arnie
Gallery
Pizzeria anarchists block traffic in street march
International
Centenary of Austria's declaration of war on Serbia
National
Eight cheap things to do in Vienna this summer
Features
'I came for a boy and stayed for the lifestyle'
Society
The Local's carnivore goes vegan
Gallery
The pop-up forest restaurant in Austria's most beautiful locations
Tech
Could robots end up doing more than half of the jobs in Austria?
International
Search on for Austrian WWI memorabilia
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

288
jobs available