Admiring Conchita Wurst: Courage, Focus and Strength

conchita wurst tom neuwirth jean paul gaultier

I’m well aware my articles about Conchita Wurst are a little ‘elaborate’ when it comes to the language I use. But…… it’s hard not to be a bit extravagant when it comes to the lovely Ms. Wurst. Come on.

But, today, I’m going in a different direction language-wise, because what I want to talk about isn’t how beautiful she is, how sexily she dances (and, yep, I’m still pushing that dancing thing as I want her to dance more), or how that tongue flick thing she does drives a person wild. Nope. Today I’ve been thinking about a far more serious subject – admiring Conchita Wurst. Because, yes, I definitely do.

So here are just a few reasons why my admiration for this Austrian singer is so huge and so deep and so wide, and it only gets bigger as the months go by.

Courage – Now we’ve all heard the rubbish she talks when it comes to being brave (and, sorry, Conchita, for saying ‘rubbish’, but I’m just calling it how I see it). “I’m not brave, I just do what I love”. Yep. Whatever. You’re brave. We know it.

And I’m not talking about the brave it takes for a man to dress up in a wig, heels, dress and a beard, and unapologetically push himself in the faces of those less tolerant – that’s a whole different definition of ‘brave’ (and one I admire, as well, by the way).

No, what I’m talking about here is the bravery it took for Conchita Wurst to sing ‘Rise Like a Phoenix’ during the second semi-final of Eurovision 2014, and absolutely nail it.

Think about it.

She had just spent six months being lambasted by bigots and homophobes the length and breadth of Europe. She’d been faced with a Facebook page from 35,000 Austrians telling her “No, we don’t want you”, a fellow contestant calling her ‘not normal’ and ‘not adequate’, and several European countries threatening to pull out of the competition if she took to the stage.

As if all that wasn’t bad enough, I’m guaranteeing you, she knew if she didn’t get through to the final at Eurovision, when she returned to Austria she would have been crucified, her career would have been all but over, and her life not really worth living.

Now, can you imagine how much pressure she was under when she walked out onto that stage during semi-final two, just one small person, — waited until the lights came up, and started to sing? And then produced………… this?

The absolute best performance at Eurovision 2014 bar none?

Brave? I don’t care what Conchita Wurst says about that. Seriously, I don’t. She’s wrong. And you’ll never convince me otherwise.


Focus – I always have six projects going at once so intense focus is something I’m used to having. But when I look at my level of focus and that of Conchita Wurst, there really is no comparison.

Her kind of focus is in how she can be crying one minute and completely snapped back in to where she needs to be in the next. Her incredible focus means no matter what awful thing somebody is saying about her this week, it’s never going to affect her performance or where she intends to get to in life. And her level of focus means there’s no doubt in my mind she will always achieve what she sets out to achieve as, with the way she thinks, there’s simply no room for failure.

I’ve met tens of thousands of people over my lifetime and I can honestly say, without any hyperbole, I have never met anyone as focused as Conchita Wurst.

Just watch her in this video from the Jean Paul Gaultier Paris fashion show, and specifically look at her eyes. I know she was nervous. I simply know it. But look at her eyes, and you could never tell. That is absolute focus.

Strength – When you hear of the verbal abuse Conchita Wurst, aka Tom Neuwirth, received as a teenager growing up in a small village in Austria, your first thought is probably to move towards feelings of sympathy and pity. Well, I know mine was.

Since then, however, I’ve changed my thoughts completely from feeling sorry that Tom Neuwirth had to go through so much pain when he was younger, to feeling nothing but admiration for his strength.

Strength that helped Tom build a happy life away from his home town and with people who love him. Strength that allowed him to give life to the woman who had always been in him. Strength that powered Conchita to build a successful career against absolutely unimaginable odds. And strength that helped her ignore all the hatred, bigotry and homophobia thrown at her, and get to Copenhagen to win Eurovision.

There honestly is nothing I admire more than strength, and I know how difficult it can be to have it. But, I always believe in that old adage, “That which does not kill you makes you stronger” and, with Conchita Wurst, it has made her so strong I’m convinced, no matter what is thrown at her in her life, her strength means she will handle it.

These are just a few of the things I admire about Conchita Wurst. Believe me, there are plenty more.


About Michelle Topham

Brit-American journalist based in Austria, former radio DJ at 97X WOXY, and Founder/CEO of Leo Sigh. I've covered anime, manga, K-drama and music news for over a decade.