Metro Weekly

Drag queen Courtney Act opens up about overcoming her sexual racism, why she is now “attracted to people irrespective of their skin colour”

Act blamed her upbringing in Australia for giving her "an unconscious bias" towards white people -- one she has since worked to remove

Courtney Act — Photo: Mitch Fong

Drag queen Courtney Act, runner-up on season six of RuPaul’s Drag Race, has admitted to previously discriminating against people of color when choosing sexual partners.

Act, real name Shane Jenek, posted a series of tweets addressing her “unconscious bias,” and why her sex life “has never been…more fulfilled” now she dates people regardless of ethnicity.

In particular, she highlighted her upbringing in Australia for instilling a form of “socialised racism” in her.

“Growing up in Australia I was never provided with examples of people of colour being sexual desirable (let alone queer POC),” Act tweeted. “It makes sense that I have socialised racisms when it comes to my sexual preference which is why I have had to consciously unpack those over the years.

“When I was a younger white gay I thought I was just attracted to white men as some sort of unconscious preference, but really it was an unconscious bias,” she continued. “Now as a white gay of a certain age I realise I grew up in a society that taught me to be racist.”

Act says that once she examined her own biases, she realized she was “attracted to people irrespective of their skin colour, and my dating and sex life has never been…more fulfilled.” Her method? Not making knee-jerk reactions while on dating apps.

“I started by not swiping so fast on Grindr, I used to unconsciously swipe faster on a person of colour,” she tweeted. “As an exercise I tried to just pause, look, & see what my bodily sense felt about the image in front of me, surprised by how many people I actually thought were attractive that I had previously swiped over. If nothing else you’re increasing your odds of getting laid!!!”

She noted that trying to overcome socially instilled ideals of “white beauty” is “due diligence” for white people.

“If you think being deliberate is somehow racist, we are bombarded with images of white beauty our whole lives,” she wrote, “I think making a deliberate effort to breakthrough that noise is just due diligence.”

Act also linked to a video by YouTuber Alex Leon addressing sexual racism in the LGBTQ community.

Act has received praise from other Twitter users for speaking openly on the subject.

“I can relate, having grown up in a country with little to no visibility for people of colour,” one user wrote, “once I moved to a much more diverse place, where conversations were miles ahead, I have been trying to dismantle and reassemble my whole way of looking at the world.”

Another added: “This is a very honest topic that I’ve never seen any other white queens talk about and I’m extremely happy you’re being open about this.”

Leon responded to Act’s tweet sharing his video by thanking her for her allyship.

“Thank you for doing the important (and uncomfortable) thing and admitting that we ALL have internalised racial stereotypes that we need to dismantle,” he tweeted. “Acknowledging them is the first step! I appreciate your allyship.”

Act is also making headlines for a new dating show she will host in the United Kingdom specifically for bisexual people.

The Bi Life, produced by NBC Universal International Studios, will air on the E! network’s British channel, and features bisexual, pansexual, fluid and questioning Brits going on holiday to find love.

Set in Barcelona, Spain, the singletons will live together as they navigate dating as bisexual — think Real World meets The Bachelor/Bachelorette, except everyone’s up for grabs.

“As if this summer hasn’t been hot enough, we decided to crank it up another notch with The Bi Life on E!” Act said in a statement announcing the show. “It’s high time there was a dating show for the large number of young people today, like me, who are attracted to more than one gender.

“In 2018 we know that sexuality is fluid and sharing the stories and experiences, the laughter and the love making, of young bi people is so important. So get ready to see the true stories of bisexual singles, who are the largest part of the LGBTQ+ community, but the least known.”

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Rhuaridh Marr is Metro Weekly's online editor. He can be reached at rmarr@metroweekly.com.

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