• Courtney Act chats to SBS Voices ahead of the 2020 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. (Getty Images Europe)Source: Getty Images Europe
“I think what’s radical is the idea that men should wear pants and women should wear dresses.”
Samuel Leighton-Dore

21 Feb 2020 - 2:21 PM  UPDATED 21 Feb 2020 - 2:25 PM

Australian drag royalty Courtney Act has had a BIG couple of years career-wise. She won Celebrity Big Brother UK, almost won Dancing With The Stars Australia, hosted The Bi Life, a dating show for Bisexual and sexually fluid people, and competed in Eurovision: Australia Decides.

Now she’s back on home soil, touring her new stage show Fluid and preparing to co-host next week’s live coverage of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

SBS Voices' Sarah Malik recently caught up with Act for a wide-ranging discussion which touches on growing up in Queensland, healthy expressions of gender, and the need for greater representation on Australian TV (full video below).

"I was afraid of the colour pink as a boy," Act says during the on-camera chat. "Which now seems ludicrous."

When asked whether she views drag culture as radical, Act pauses.

"I don't know if it is radical," she replies. "I think what's radical is the idea that men should wear pants and women should wear dresses. I think that's, like, foolishly radical."

"I guess I dress like this to over-articulate the point that it's all a choice, that it's all make believe, it's all artifice..."

Act continues: "I guess I dress like this to over-articulate the point that it's all a choice, that it's all make believe, it's all artifice, and I think when you realise that it's all make believe, the world is a much safer place to be in, because you're able to not take it so seriously."

"There was something, I think, drag gave me that I didn't have access to as a boy and that was the opportunity to express my femininity," Act adds.

"Since understanding that it's okay for boys to be feminine, it's okay for girls to be masculine, it really allowed me to sort of blend the two together, which I think is much healthier."

Reflecting on her childhood in Brisbane, the one-time Australian Idol contestant commented: "It's interesting, because I didn't really know anything different."

She continues: "When you don't have anything relative to compare your experience to it can actually breed a lot of shame.

"When you look around and you don't see people who look like you, on television or in social circles, you sort of are like, oh gosh, it's only me. It's not anybody else who's like this. Keep that on the down-low. And it sort of reinforces a negative idea about yourself, which is really interesting, and really unfortunate, because I know for so many people, especially Australian television, whether it's people of colour or queer people or people with disabilities, there's just not the visibility out there."

You can find out more about Courtney Act's new stage show Fluid here.

The Sydney Gay And Lesbian Mardi Gras 2020: Live Stream will be available to watch here from Saturday, 29th February 2020 at 07:35 PM.

Here's every 2020 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras float in running order
This year's parade feels decidedly more political than previous years, with floats protesting the climate emergency and religious freedom bill.
How to watch the 2020 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade
Get up-to-date on all the ways to watch this year's Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade on SBS - from anywhere in the world.
'What Matters': Playful and powerful float to subvert standard Trans and Gender Diverse narrative
"We’re a good twenty years behind the other letters under the rainbow," says AJ Brown, President of Trans Pride Australia.
'What Matters': First Nations Mardi Gras float to highlights five key community messages
"Representation and visibility of First Nations queer people is crucial for all the queer identifying mob who may be watching from home."
'What Matters': People with disability are marching for connection and inclusion this Mardi Gras
People with disability, just like everyone else, have a wide range of identities, and a right to be included in community events.