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Eurovision 2014: Bearded Austrian drag queen Conchita Wurst wins

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Ecstatic: The singer celebrates as she is awarded the winner's trophy for Eurovision 2014Ecstatic: The singer celebrates as she is awarded the winner's trophy for Eurovision 2014Conchita Wurst won the Eurovision Song Contest 2014 with a score of 290 after a grandiose ballad Rise Like a Phoenix, before a TV audience of around 180 million people in 45 countries, reports citing

'This is dedicated to everyone who believes in a future of peace and freedom,' a tearful Conchita said as she accepted the trophy from Denmark's Emmelie de Forrest, who won the contest last year. 'We are unity and we are unstoppable.'

'For me, my dream came true,' she added at a news conference after the win. 'But for our society, it just showed me that there are people out there who want to go into the future and go on, you know, not stepping back or thinking in the past.'

Austrian Drag queen Conchita, the alter ego of 25-year-old Thomas Neuwirth, gave one of the most glamorous and sultry performances of the contest, held in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The singer, who sported a full beard, dressed in a gold embellished fishtail gown. 

Walking onto the stage in front of a smokey backdrop, she gave a powerful performance of her song Rise Like a Phoenix. 

Her look was set off by diamond earrings, while she also wore a red lipstick, wore her long hair in waves and defined her eyes in heavy black eyeliner. 

Pushing the boundaries of gender identity is nothing new at Europe's annual song contest, which is known for its eclectic, sometimes unlistenable lineup of techno beats, love songs and pop tunes. 

Prior to her performance. the transvestite has faced a barrage of homophobic and transphobic attacks from within her own country and from other countries including Russia, Armenia and Belarus, who branded the contest a 'hotbed of sodomy', the BBC has reported.

Amid growing tensions over the Ukraine crisis, some in Eastern Europe have blasted Wurst as an example of the West's decadence. Activists in Belarus had even urged the country's state television network to edit the Austrian entry out of its Eurovision broadcast. 

'I can only say thank you for your attention. If this is only about me and my person, I can live with it', Wurst said about her critics in emails with The Associated Press.

'You know, I have a very thick skin. It's just strange that a little facial hair causes that much excitement.'

Speaking ahead of the semifinal in Copenhagen on Thursday, she added: 'I have to add that 80 percent of the autograph requests that I get are from Russia and eastern Europe — and that's what is important to me'.

Neuwirth, who was born in Gmunden, central Austria, entered show business eight years ago, taking part in an Austrian TV talent show.

After joining a boy band that quickly broke up, Neuwirth first appeared as Wurst in another talent show in 2011. She has also taken part in two reality shows, including one where candidates had to survive in the Namibian desert with native tribes.

As she prepared for her performance in Copenhagen, Wurst said she wasn't paying much attention to the controversy about her.

'Hey, I'm just a singer in a fabulous dress, with great hair and a beard,' she also told AP.

The annual competition is supposed to be completely removed from politics. Still, every time Russia got votes from mainly neighboring countries, many in the audience of 10,000 booed. 

And when Moscow gave its respective 8, 10 and 12 points to Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus - all former Soviet republics - more boos were heard. 

The winner was picked by juries and television viewers across Europe.

May 11 2014, 09:20

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