Courtney Act opened up about her pansexuality, thoughts on gender, racism and taking responsibility publicly in ways many of us won’t even confront privately.
But she’s embracing who she is and facing her own biases head on in a new thought-proving an interview with PinkNews,
“A lot of the confusion for me came from growing up in a world that didn’t really have many options when it came to sexuality or gender. And it’s just been the last sort of five years, since Laverne Cox was on the cover of Time magazine really, that I think the conversation has opened up so much.
As someone who always questioned where they fell on the gender spectrum, that conversation gave me space. Having people like Laverne and Janet Mock and Chaz Bono in the public eye gave me these amazing examples of trans people, who were giving such brilliant conversation, that meant I was able to put aside my internalised transphobia about my own identity and link to it, and explore what that actually meant.
…Chaz Bono and I were talking about gender back in 2013, and he was telling me about his experience. I remember saying to him,
‘Don’t you just think that sometime in the future, trans people will be so accepted that they’ll be able to just live their lives however they feel and not have to undergo medical or surgical transition?’
And he said:
‘No, that’s what you think because that’s who you are.’
I don’t have any body dysmorphia or anything like that, but for Chaz his top surgery was an intrinsic part of his identity. It was the first time that I learnt to accept trans identity through someone else’s experience and not my own life. And that was really powerful.
I grew up in a society where I was taught to be racist. The media had these narratives and these archetypes of not just black people, but all people of color, that represented them in unjust and unfair ways.
That manipulated and demonized them for political gain. When you are confronted with that it can be easy to say,
‘Oh, I’m not racist’.
But as a white person, I now understand that I was brought up in that world. I don’t blame myself for those those racist feelings that I had, but I do take responsibility for them instantly. It’s not inherently who I am, it was something that I’ve learned and it’s something that I can unlearn, and have and continue to unlearn.
It’s something that white people living in the Western world need to consistently unpack, because there are such prominent hallmarks of racism in the communities that we live in.
I think that there’s so much to understand and unpack when it comes to sexual racism in the gay community and the queer community. If you let go of those unconscious biases, you might get laid more often.
I noticed years ago, I would be on Grindr and I just would flip more quickly over profiles of people of color and I would stay longer on profiles of white people.
That was actually the one of the things that was the trigger for me. I was like,
Oh, did you notice that? Why is that? Am I even able to discern whether I like somebody or not that quickly, or am I just using that entire categorisation of a person to swipe them away?’
As an activity I started to actively stay on – and look, some of this is it’s contrived, because it has to be because you’re trying to counteract systems – but I’d be like, “OK, let me just stay on these profiles of people of colour a little bit longer. What do I think? Do I feel attracted? What’s going on when I look at this Black guy or that Asian guy? Does it turn me on, am I turned on by him?”
This is weird because it’s sort of like meditation on Grindr – but if you can, rather than just reacting, rather than just saying yes or no to each photo, take a moment and try, as you see the photograph, to feel what happens in your body. What sensations come up in your body? Are there any memories or thoughts or ideas?
That little act opened my world exponentially.
A lot of the men I sleep with are straight identifying, I often sleep with them as Courtney. By the way I’m not just into straight guys, I’m an equal opportunist – but I wondered why there was that interest in the unobtainable.
Is it just that you want what you can’t have? I examined it and I realized that my sexuality began in puberty, in high school, and I was attracted to the boys who were around me at school. All of them, ostensibly, were straight, so of course, I couldn’t express that attraction to them.
And I would pine away for these boys, who were never going to love me back because I couldn’t even articulate what I was feeling to them, because I was so unaware of what being queer even was, and they were all straight.
That was where my sexuality began, and that’s when my sexuality was stunted, because it wasn’t able to grow beyond that idea of being attracted to these guys who were straight and were never going to love me back.
Even observing that is such a powerful moment. I’m writing my memoir and it has been really powerful. I’m unpacking a lot of formative experiences.”
Fate permitting, Courtney Act’s Fluid will tour the UK and Europe in April 2021. Tickets are on sale here.