Who doesn’t enjoy a nice evening curled up under a blanket in front of the telly? Especially during those grey, rainy days that have been far too frequent recently. But the time for television and media as a value-free/entertainment only pastime has passed now.

This year’s edition of Celebrity Big Brother was supposed to be dedicated to women and feminism in every shape and form, though this shattered after the entrance of several men into the most watched house on TV.

Reality shows have never been known for their intellectual content, but CBB has taken an unexpected and surprising path.

Drag queen Courtney Act took the audience by surprise when, a few days into the show, she started educating people on the issues of gender identity and gender fluidity. Act, who goes by Shane Gilberto Jenek when out of drag, found fame in Australia after taking part in the first ever season of Australian Idol, and then in the States after making it into the top three of RuPaul’s Drag Race season six.

Courtney is no stranger to being an outspoken advocate for the LGBTQ+ community and issues affecting them; as she often does on her YouTube Channel and on her MTV clips. From testing for HIV and STIs to gender to transsexuality, she’s never been silently in the shadows.

I have to admit that it felt weird watching Courtney explain to her fellow housemates how gender is a spectrum and how it all has to do with identity rather than sexuality. It felt weird because we’re used to watch people fighting, insulting, and misgendering each other when it comes to such topics – and yes I’m talking about you Piers Morgan. Courtney’s calm and relaxed tone and expression have changed the rules of the game.

It felt weird because we’re used to watch people fighting, insulting, and misgendering each other when it comes to such topics

“We certainly do need more people talking about it in a more level-headed, kind, and compassionate way. Most of the media coverage has been bordering on hysterical, or has centred on those disagreeing from very extreme standpoints” said author and journalist Justin Myers, who has been actively talking about the issue.

“The conversation happening on CBB was much more nuanced, and took into account variations and complexities of gender and sexuality. Most mainstream media – on both sides – has been very heavy-handed. The situations that arose with India and Courtney/Shane brought the more human side of the issue – these are real people, living through this every day. It was essential their voices were heard and, more importantly, seen by an audience who may not have even thought about these issues before.”

As a matter of fact, a lot of people went on Twitter to praise Courtney’s lecture and thanked her for changing their minds.

Although we’ve reached a point in our society where homosexuality and bisexuality are – more or less – accepted terms; this is still not the case for trans, gender fluid, and gender non binary people.

Courtney Act has started it, now it is up to us to keep the discourse going and educate people on gender issues and the difficulties that these entail on a daily basis.

Image: Big Brother UK, Courtesy of YouTube

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