“Gender Does Exist On a Spectrum” – Why Courtney Act’s Articulation of Sexuality and Gender is Phenomenal

Courtney Act, I absolutely love her.

As with every year when Celebrity Big Brother comes to our televisions, I have no intent to watch it. I barely even watch television, but when I do, it’s for shows such a RuPaul’s Drag Race. Like many who watch Drag Race, I have my all-time favourites such as Willam, Sharon Needles, and Courtney Act, so when I heard Shane Jenek (a.k.a Courtney Act) would be entering the house, you bet I was all hyped up 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.

“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’”.

And whilst we can already say Shane has pretty much won CBB, 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, India 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”. I was slightly thrown back by this comment alongside some remarks she has made, however, everyone has their phobias no matter how uncommon or unordinary they are.

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 guide Andrew on how to tuck). India was made aware that Andrew would be coming out in drag, at which point India could have – and should have – left the room if her “drag queen phobia” was that distressing. Furthermore, I felt India overstepped the mark when she went on to reveal why she didn’t like it… in a very antagonistic way. This was that she saw drag queens as mocking transgender people 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.

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 realise Ann is 70 years old and think we need to be open minded to that as 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 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. Although I completely disagree with her and think the things she stands for are quite oppressive, we all need to respect each others beliefs. 

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 LGBTQ+ 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. 

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 definitely 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 with Barbies. 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


[Lead images: Fandom TV]

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