In a year filled with notable entries — some sublime, some ridiculous, which according to BuzzFeed are most often sent by countries unable to afford a win — the winner of the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest has finally been announced as Austria’s Conchita Wurst with her song Rise Like a Phoenix.
Wurst made headlines as soon as she was announced as Austria’s pick for the 2014 instalment of Eurovision, with much written about the 25-year-old bearded drag performer, whose James Bond theme-like ballad secured Austria’s second Eurovision victory, having previously won in 1966.
As The Australian reports, Wurst was crowned after facing selection from juries and viewers across Europe, who watched the contest live on television. “This is dedicated to everyone who believes in a future of peace and freedom,” a tearful Wurst said during her acceptance speech. “We are unity.”
Wurst’s entry was faced with protests from some, particularly from those residing in the more traditional and nationalistic Eastern Europe, with activists in Belarus urging the state television network to bypass Eurovision rules with a delayed broadcasting omitting Wurst’s performance.
Eurovision in fact has a history of pushing gender identity boundaries. In 1998, Israeli trans woman Dana International won the contest with her song, Diva. Wurst dedicated her win to LGBTQ people around the world. When asked if she had anything to say to despotic Russian President Vladimir Putin, she replied, “I don’t know if he is watching this now, but if so, I’ll say it: ‘We’re unstoppable.'”
Watch: Conchita Wurst – Rise Like a Phoenix Live Eurovision Grand Final 2014
Watch: Conchita Wurst Celebrating 2014 Eurovision Song Contest Win