A person in a hundred million
This is the face of someone with a strength of character you could spend a lifetime looking for, and will rarely find.
It is the face of someone who, no matter what life throws at him, will never stop standing up for himself and will never let other people define who he is or how he should live his life.
Someone who takes every bad situation, and deals with it in the most professional and most respectful way possible. While still making sure he turns that bad situation to his advantage.
This is Conchita, aka, Conchita Wurst, aka Tom Neuwirth — winner of the Eurovision Song Contest 2014, one of the most talented singers of his generation, and the kindest, nicest, most decent person you could ever have the good fortune to meet. Someone who you do meet and think, “Holy Moly, his parents did a good job bringing him up”.
He is also someone who would never deliberately hurt anyone but who, this weekend, was forced into revealing his HIV positive status due to an ex-boyfriend threatening to go public with it.
But, as is usual in Conchita/Tom Neuwirth’s case, he did it with strength, courage and incredible grace.
Conchita’s official announcement can be read on her Instagram page in English and in German. But her opening statement tells everything about who she is.
Today is the day to free myself from the Sword of Damocles for the rest of my life. I have been HIV-positive for many years. This is actually irrelevant to the public, but an ex-boyfriend is threatening to go public with this private information, and I will not give anyone the right to frighten me or affect my life.
She goes on to explain,
Since I received the diagnosis, I have been in medical treatment, and for many years without interruption, I have been below the detection limit, which means I am unable to transmit the virus.
The sad thing is she was forced to make this announcement by a man she probably once cared about, yet who seems to have the morals of a snake. Particularly when, like with any other medical diagnosis, it is nobody’s business but hers.
But, if you ignore the horrible way this came about, Conchita announcing her HIV positive status is all kinds of wonderful. Because, now, she is more free than she has ever been before.
Oh what freedom you have, Conchita and what wonderful things you will do with it
Imagine suddenly being one of the most famous people on the planet. Overnight being catapulted into stardom with a win of a singing competition.
And, while you are thankful beyond belief to have this huge career boost, imagine how you would feel if you were carrying around a secret that, you felt, may make people not love you anymore if they knew.
A secret that could come out at any time, and one that could destroy the career you have worked so hard to build. (**See my comment at the bottom of the article about HIV and its stigma. A stigma that has zero basis in fact).
That is the burden Tom Neuwirth has been carrying around with him for years. And a worry that must have tinged every one of his happy career moments with the thought “If they only knew”.
But, as we have seen today with Conchita’s HIV positive announcement, nothing could be further from the truth.
Not only has she seen a massive outpouring of love and support from friends, fans, the news media, and from artists who know her or have worked with her, she is now free.
Free from worry, free from stress, free to be who she is, and who she wants to be. On her terms.
Which means, oh glory be, if you think those beautiful songs, those spectacular concerts, those collaborations with so many famous artists, and those funny interviews and talk show appearances Conchita gave were wonderful, all I can say is fasten your seat belt.
Because, now she has nothing to hide, Conchita can finally be herself. In all her unfettered fabulousness.
**Comment about HIV and the ignorant stigma associated with it
HIV is not, as some people still mistakenly believe, “A gay virus”. It is a human virus. Anyone can contract it. It is still, however, something some people are ignorant about, or choose to be ignorant about due to hatred, bigotry or homophobia.
One of the fastest growing demographics for HIV infection are those over the age of 50. Many are heterosexual. Whites, blacks, Hispanics, Asians, men, women, gay, bisexual or straight — all can contract the HIV virus.
New HIV infections are declining among young gay and bisexual men. They are the same or increasing in other segments of the population, including in people ages 15 to 24.
Nobody is immune from HIV, which is why you should never have unprotected sex unless you are in a committed, monogamous relationship and you are sure, without any doubt, your partner is not having sex with anyone else. Condoms are cheap. Please use them.
You cannot catch HIV from shaking someone’s hand, hugging them, kissing them (even deep kissing), sharing food or doing anything that you would generally do with anyone you are close to.
If someone is HIV positive, is in medical treatment, and has a viral load below the detection limit, you cannot catch HIV. Even if you have unprotected sex with them, as the virus cannot be transmitted.
If you do not know your HIV status, please get tested. If you have questions about HIV, AVERT has superb information and is a great place to start.
HIV is nothing to be afraid of.
What you should be afraid of is bigotry, hatred, racism and ignorance, as those things will damage all of us.
Stand up against discrimination. Stand up against intolerance. Stand up against ignorance and stupidity. Treat people who are HIV positive just like you would anyone else.
Conchita’s HIV positive status
Frankly, other than that I am so proud of her for announcing it in the way she did, and for standing up for herself, — HIV positive, HIV negative, whatever.
What does make a difference is Conchita is one of the most talented people on the planet and, I am sure, is someone who would not want her HIV positive status to be the thing you now focus on. Because, in the grand scheme of things, it’s inconsequential.
Instead, focus on her beautiful music, her kickass concerts, how gorgeous she is, and what a lovely human being she is in every possible way.
Now watch some of Conchita’s superb music (there are a couple of fabulous videos below), buy tickets to her concerts, her debut album, and her upcoming CD collaboration (and concert) with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra and, if you haven’t already, head to her Instagram page and tell her how much you love her.