27 January 2018


Courtney Act. Oh my goodness, where to start? I absolutely love her.

Like every year, when Celebrity Big Brother comes to our television, I have no interest or intent to watch it. I barely even watch television, but when I do, it’s for shows such a RuPaul’s Drag Race and Once Upon A Time. Like many who watch Drag Race, I have my all-time favourites such as Alaska, Willam, Sharon Needles…Courtney Act. So when I heard Shane Jenek (a.k.a Courtney Act) would be entering the house, you bet I got all hyped up - majorly - and tuned into CBB straight away!

After falling in love with Shane / Courtney Act on RuPaul’s Drag Race in 2014, I’m so glad to see Shane taking the opportunity on CBB to educate the other housemates - and the whole public - on a range of issues surrounding gender fluidity, sexuality and identity politics. In the space of a couple of days Courtney Act went viral and has become a favourite for not just the mishap of an entrance with her skirt falling to the ground…twice, but for explaining the spectrums of sexuality and gender so perfectly.

(Video above is only available on some platforms so click here to access it if it isn't showing)

“I think the tricky thing is that my feeling is that gender does exist on a spectrum” he said during a discussion with another housemate. “I would say it’s like the Kinsey Scale with sexuality from zero to six, where zero is exclusively heterosexual and six is exclusively homosexual. I think that gender’s similar where, if one is female and six is male, I’m probably a four.” he explained. “It is more complex ‘cause there is more than two answers and people aren’t used to that. They’re like ‘male, female. Got it’.”.  LIKE, COULD YOU EXPLAIN IT ANY BETTER?

And whilst Shane has pretty much already won CBB (in my eyes anyways), there was another housemate who caused some controversy during their time in the house. India Willoughby, Britain’s first transgender woman to present the news. Pretty much dominating the discussions in the house in the first week, she has been criticised for some of her outspoken opinions regarding drag queens like Courtney Act. Repeatedly reminding housemates stating she has a “drag queen phobia”, which I was slightly thrown back by originally alongside some remarks she has made. However, everyone has their phobias no matter how uncommon or unordinary they are. It is also to my understanding that India doesn't see Courtney as…threatening in looks as other drag queens. 

I didn't particularly like India in the house as she liked to stir up quite a bit of negativity, for instance when Shane gave Andrew a drag makeover (one of my highlights from the show so far is definitely Shane trying to explain to Andrew how to tuck!). India was made aware that Andrew would be coming out in drag, at which point India could have - and should have - got up and left the room if her “drag queen phobia” was that hard. I know that if it was me and someone said “you’re about to be confronted with one of your fears”, either I’d see how I feel once in the presence of it and then decide if it’s best to leave, or simply just leave the room right there and then. I would NEVER put myself through something so distressing - not just for myself, but because I don't want to ruin other peoples fun and overall vibes. I also felt India overstepped the mark when she went on to reveal why she didn't like it…in a very antagonistic way; she saw drag queens as mocking transgender people like herself and later compared it to an old tv show saying "Like in the old days when black and white minstrels would put on a show and everyone would cheer”. I will hands down say I'm so glad she was first to go.

(Video above is only available on some platforms so click here to access it if it isn't showing)

Ann is another housemate that brings some controversy. I am completely against most of what she says and stands for, but nonetheless everyone is entitled to their own opinions. I also think people need to be open minded and realise Anne is 70 years old. She was brought up and raised in a completely different generation where equality didn't exist for the LGBTQ+ community. Time has moved on, and over the last decade or so especially, we’ve seen so much change when it comes to equality - parents are now even starting to bring their children up as gender fluid. It’s almost like a whole different world, and that’s why I don’t think it’s right for people to be attacking Ann, for she is entitled to her own beliefs and opinions. That doesn't make her a bad person. Like I said, though I completely disagree with her and think the things she stands for are quite oppressive, we all need to respect each others beliefs. 

(Video above is only available on some platforms so click here to access it if it isn't showing)

Going off of that, the discussions that Shane has with the other housemates really show what an amazing advocate he is. His knowledge on the LGBT community and equal rights, and his poise when listening to the opinions of others, even when he doesn't agree with them, is just so… refreshing. I don't even know how to describe it. He is so understanding, respectful and down to earth with everyone… and intelligent and well spoken…and articulate. (You can really tell who I’m routing to win!).

I honestly think there needs to be more televised discussions and debates like what we’ve seen over the last couple of weeks on CBB because that’s how we change the hearts and minds of people. It’s also how we can help support and educate younger people who feel that they don't fit in or are unsure. We can all learn a lot from Shane.

I agree with Shane that gender is on a spectrum. Men can be feminine and women can be masculine. However, being feminine doesn't make you female or being masculine doesn't make you male - instead that would be a narrow sexist stereotype. Let men be feminine. Educate men to be kind to feminine men. Let women be masculine. Don't force a feminine role on girls. Stop adverts of boys in blue doing 'cool stuff' whilst girls sit in their pink bedrooms playing quietly. Gender is taught but must not be confused with sex. Let the definition of male and female change and become the narrow stereotype that gender is. After all…

“Gender does exist on a spectrum” - Shane Jenek

1 comment

  1. I don't watch Big Brother, and I know even less about Drag Race, but I've really loved watching the discussions that this series has prompted on Facebook and the like, from people who I don't normally see talking about gender issues. Lots of new fans for Courtney/Shane!

    Lis / last year's girl x


© KA5THLEEN. Design by FCD.