Austrian bearded drag queen and Euro-vision winner Conchita Wurst has announced in an Instagram post that she is HIV positive, saying she is being blackmailed by a former boyfriend. Wurst, the creation of Austrian singer and artist Tom Neuwirth, 29, said in the post late on Sunday that the ex-boyfriend was “threatening to go public with this private information”. “I won’t give anyone the right to scare me and to influence my life in this way,” said Wurst, describing the decision to go public as removing a “sword of Damocles”.
The post has already received more than 26,000 “likes” on Monday morning. “Coming out is better than being outed by someone else. I hope to give others courage and to take another step against the stigmatization of those who have contracted HIV,” Wurst added. Wurst said that she had been receiving medical treatment since her diagnosis and that it had been suppressed to undetectable levels, so it could not be transmitted.
“I’m stronger, more motivated and freer than ever,” Wurst said. She praised the “unconditional support” she had received from her family and added that sparing them the publicity was one reason she had not chosen to share the information before now. “My friends have also known for quite a while now and have approached with it a spirit of acceptance that I would wish for all those affected,” she said.
Wurst shot to fame after winning the Euro-vision Song Contest in 2014 with her song “Rise Like A Phoenix” and used her platform to campaign for gay rights. In February she announced a new album in collaboration with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra and is due to host the Amadeus Austrian Music Awards next week.