Sunday, May 11, 2014

Conchita Wurst: When We Get it Right

Conchita Wurst delivered a dynamic performance and came out victorious in the Eurovision Song Contest. Conchita has been the subject of some considerable curiosity throughout the contest, with her appearance being central to her appeal. She is an Austrian drag performer who wears a beard, and for that reason people were struggling with how to talk about her. Is she a woman? Is she a man? Is she an "it"? This certainly forces us as a society to confront our own ideas about what is feminine and what is masculine. The point that Conchita makes is that these things don't matter. There is no need to try and classify and "explain" people. Conchita is Conchita.

What has been fascinating about the discussions around her, and way in which people dealt with Conchita is the way in which we discuss the T in the LGBT community. It's hard for some people to get their minds around someone not being male or female entirely. There is a huge amount of confusion and fear present with any person who doesn't conform one way or the other.

What this discussion about her is helpful for is to confront our own confusion and perhaps demystify persons with non-binary gender identities. There is an expectation that a trans person is not really a "man" or "woman" until they commit to surgery, and even then people are skeptical of a trans man or woman's "credentials" to be "male" or "female".What does it mean to be a man or a woman? Is it possible not to really be either, but both or one or the other at a time one pleases? The answer is pretty simply, yes. Let's appreciate people for who are, not their gentiles.

Conchita is a great performer, and she won votes not necessarily because she is a fascination, but because she genuinely had the best contest entry. Europe saw Conchita as a performer, judged her merits against the other entries and they got it right. Hats off to her.

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