Shane Jenek, aka Courtney Act, talks Moreton Bay Pridefest

Courtney Act Moreton Bay Pridefest

QNews talks with Shane Jenek – better known as Courtney Act – ahead of his appearance at Moreton Bay Pridefest.

With just over a week left until the inaugral Moreton Bay Pridefest celebrations, I sat down with Shane to discuss the misconstrued narrative surrounding Drag Storytime, and the surrealism of returning to old stomping grounds to perform a pride event.

Visibility is a responsibility

NW: Recently you made a comment on The Project during a segment about the onslaught of hate and anger around drag story time, and I think you articulated it so perfectly– you said, “Visibility without protection is a trap”. Could you expand on that a little?

SJ: “Well, first I would contextualise ‘onslaught of hate’, because I think it’s important that as a community we don’t traumatise ourselves too much by assuming that there is this very large, loud, vocal opponent. It’s actually a very small group of extremists – like the neo-Nazis in Melbourne. They prescribe to racist, misogynistic, anti-Semitic and homophobic ideology.

“So I think in a weird way, there should be a little bit of comfort in knowing that it’s not just about us, the queer community, these are people whose ideas society at large rejects. So perhaps the focus could be better placed on them.

“But the more visibility that we have in pop culture and the media, the more people that hear about us and see us, and that can trigger a dormant hatred, I guess. It’s not that more people hate queer people now. There’s a small number of people who never had to have any interaction with queer folk who are now being ‘forced in their face’.

“And so, with World Pride, rainbows everywhere, corporates getting on board – that provokes those people. And if we don’t have appropriate protections in place with regards to, A) anti-vilification laws, and also, B) in our media, then that visibility becomes a trap for those who are most vulnerable.”

It’s not us, it’s them

NW: This is why something as mundane as Drag Queen Storytime is now in the spotlight, right?

SJ: “Drag queens don’t want to read to children. I think that’s one thing that has maybe been misconstrued.

“This isn’t a result of drag queens wanting to read books to kids, this is drag queens performing a lovely community service because rainbow families and parents of queer kids love the opportunity to have a safe space where the parents can bring their kids and hear stories and hang out with other community members and have a bit of fun with a glamorous clown.

“So, I hope most queer people understand that their identities are valid and celebrated and that these noisy detractors aren’t really making any sense. I hope that queer people aren’t hearing some of the negativity and thinking ‘oh, is there something wrong with us?’ Because there’s absolutely not anything wrong with us. It’s absolutely them.”

NW: I think that kind of ties back into what you were saying before – the sincere hatred is actually just like a very small minority. And it’s the people who are somewhere in between, unsure how drag fits into queer culture. So they kind of amplify the more vocal bigots because they need a public discourse to decide which side they’re on.

SJ: “Yeah, and they’re usually on Facebook or Twitter and someone shares some weird video in some weird context and tries to make that emblematic of Drag Queen Storytime, but I think first and foremost, queer people, and especially drag queens, are extremely adamant about the protection of children.

“All of these are about fortifying people’s identities and helping them to understand who they are so they can feel comfortable in the world.”

Courtney Act returns to Moreton Bay

NW: Courtney Act has attended pride events all over the world, and with all of the pride events in Australia like Moreton Bay Pridefest, do you think there’s something unique about Australian Pride events? 

SJ: “Well I grew up in Brighton near Moreton Bay in the 80s and 90s and never would have dreamed of this big, amazing pride festival in Moreton Bay – how fierce is that?!

“I feel like this pride movement is kind of like a new thing. Obviously Mardi Gras has been around since 1978, Midsummer Festival’s been around, and there’s there’s been queer festivals and celebrations. But I really like the idea of ‘Pride’ specifically, like Brisbane Pride, Gold Coast Pride and now Moreton Bay Pride.

“These sort of feel like more modern celebrations, and I’m really glad that they’re all popping up around the place.

“Although, I’m very keen for Moreton Bay Pride Festival, [the lineup] is all bangers. It’s all people who would be loved across the board.

“But I’m also just so excited to be coming back to Moreton Bay.”

Courtney Act will join the incredible talents of Thelma Plum, Sneaky Sound System and many, many more, for Moreton Bay Pridefest on Saturday 10th of June. Get your tickets now!

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Nate Woodall

QNews, Brisbane Gay, App, Gay App, LGBTI, LGBTI News, Gay Australia

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