This past Saturday, a bearded angel named Conchita Wurst touched down upon Earth to compete in and win Eurovision. The singing drag queen — technically from Austria and not the heavens — stole the hearts of voters and viewers the world over, but not everyone is a fan. In fact, some are even heralding her as "the end of Europe."
Particularly furious is Russia's anti-gay lobby. Following Conchita's win, Vladimir Putin's vice premier Dmitry Rogozin complained on Twitter that the Eurovision results "showed supporters of European integration their European future - a bearded girl".
During a debate televised in Russia after the contest was over, Russian MP Vladimir Zhirinovsky said there was "no limit to our outrage" (obviously), adding that "it has turned wild. There are no more men or women in Europe, just it."
Conchita's victory and the reactions that follow are representative of a larger divide between Russia, its bordering former Soviet countries and the rest of Europe. While Eurovision is not supposed to be political, this year's contest was fraught with political tension. Russia's entrants, twin sisters Anastasia and Maria Tolmachevy, were booed by the auditorium whenever they received votes and, prior to the competition, petitioners in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia demanded that Conchita be removed from the broadcast.
It would be remiss to claim that all of Russia has responded negatively to Conchita, just as it would be remiss to say that everyone outside of Eastern Europe has welcomed her with open arms. The writer of Russia's own entry defended the performer on live television, reportedly saying "Perhaps Conchita's victory should make Russians think again about their attitudes to non traditional sexual relations."
Conchita, for her part, is not ruffled by the negative attention.
"I have very thick skin," She told AFP. "It never ceases to amaze me just how much fuss is made over a little facial hair."
When asked specifically about Putin, she replied, ""We are unstoppable. I really dream of a world where we don't have to talk about unnecessary things like sexuality, where you're from or who you love. This is not what it's all about."
Image via Getty.