Thank You, Conchita Wurst

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So it dawned on me today that, in those 2 million four hundred and ninety nine thousand words I’ve written about you, (yes, you, Conchita Wurst, because this time I’m directly addressing you), I have not said “Thank you” nearly enough. And, frankly, I should have done. As many times as I could, and whenever I thought about what a huge impact you have had on my life.

Because here’s the thing. And it’s a thing I still sometimes have a hard time getting my head around.

I am not the type of woman who moves somewhere for anyone. And certainly never for someone I’m not dating.

And never for someone who wears prettier dresses than I do (well, you used to, and I hope you will again!). Spends more time on her make-up than I will ever do in any lifetime. Can walk in stiletto heels much better than I ever could or would want to (because the bloody things hurt. And yes, I know, “flat is the new black”. You told me).

And who is someone that, if you had said to me just over two years ago that I would currently be sitting in a sublet apartment in Vienna having moved my ass and all my belongings 8,451 kilometers (that’s the actual distance. I checked) from Bangkok to Vienna because of you, I would have asked “What are you smoking?”

Yet, here I sit.

And what’s interesting about this, and why I have to say the biggest “Thank You” I ever could to you is for two very important reasons.

First, I am now living in a city that I would never have considered moving to if it wasn’t for you. Because Vienna? Who the hell moves there? It’s small, it’s cold, it’s Austria. And the Viennese are some of the grumpiest people on the planet. (Well, actually they’re not. Not when you make an effort to dig deeper than that surface grump, and discover how lovely they really are).

But what’s truly amazing about this is how much I fell in love with Vienna from almost the minute my plane touched down last month. How much this city is already burrowing itself under my skin in a way few places do, and how some of the people I’ve already met here are those I’m going to love forever.

And when I’m on MariaHilfer Strasse and around the MuseumsQuartier doing my nightly speedwalking, and I look at the amazing mix of people and cultures as I fly by, and I realize how much I love my new life, I often think “If it wasn’t for Conchita, I wouldn’t be here”, and how bizarre is that?

And the second reason why I have to thank you? Really thank you. Because this has had more impact on my life, and my happiness than almost anything.

You have made me a better writer.

Because there has always been something about you from the first minute I saw you, above anyone else I write about, that makes me go deeper into how you are able to affect me when you sing, and when you speak, and who you are, and how I feel about that.

And then be able to put it down on the page so that it makes sense. And so that it touches the people who read it.

And, as a writer, that is too impossibly huge to even explain.

Because it has then leaked over into everything else I write. And made me better at what I do, and how I figure out how I feel. And then, of course, how open I am when I write about it.

And so, thank you, Conchita. Because you will honestly never understand how grateful I am to have ever stumbled across you.

But…it’s also not just me that should be thanking you.

It’s all those other people that I told you about when I met you that contact me, and tell me how much you have changed their lives.

That gay man who now feels more confident about doing what he wants to do because he sees you, someone very much like him, but someone who will never let people tell her she cannot be who she wants to be.

Or that woman who was bullied as a kid and now realizes all the things she felt when it happened to her, you felt too. But that, if you are able to stand up and say “I didn’t deserve that. And I’m not a victim”, then she can too.

Or that abused wife who still may not have the courage to leave the man doing the abusing but, just watching you live your life and being unafraid to stand up to the people doing the abusing, gives her the feeling that eventually she will be able to as well.

Or even those Russian girls who moved so far out of their comfort zone that they will fly anywhere you are just for that miniscule chance of being able to talk to you, will spend half their lives promoting you and never ask for anything in return, except that you occasionally look their way so they can thank you.

And it’s all these things, me, them, people I haven’t even met yet, that have been so affected by you and your just…being, that always makes me absolutely sure what you are here to do is so important and has not been fully done yet.

That, however much impact you have already had on people’s lives, in the future you will have more.

Because, I think, when you finally get it stuck in your head that the “it’s just me” thought you always have is so far removed from reality, and that who you are and what you do changes lives — literally changes lives — and that you are far more important than you seem to be able to grasp right now, then you will have the courage to only do bigger and better things, and to have an even larger impact on the world in a positive way.

But, until that day comes, and in a tiny attempt to maybe move it here a little quicker, the ridiculously, impossibly, stupidly small, not-ever-going-to-be-good-enough but only thing I have to give you right now is to say “Thank you, Conchita Wurst”.

Really. Thank you. Because me? I’m this person with a huge personality, who knows my own mind, and has a sense of sureness about who I am and where I’m going, and is someone who is not easily swayed by anyone else. And definitely never by ‘a celebrity’.

And if you can cause me to move my life across two continents simply because of how you impact it, and open me up as a writer so that what I do now has more impact than it ever had before, only imagine what you can do for others.

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.