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.