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This month we’re having words about…

Water Cooler Chatter ‘Celebrity’ Big Brother

Anyone watching this year’s Celebrity Big Brother – well, the first CBB of the year (there will be another one in September) – will be aware of that issues of sexual and gender identity have been at the forefront of the contestant’s minds.

Image: Shane Jenek

In perhaps the most unlikely twist yet, former RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant, Courtney Act (also known as Shane Jenek) has become the house’s font of all LGBT+ knowledge – and both Shane and Courtney are doing a bang-up job.

Image: India Willoughby

There was immediate tension between Courtney/Shane and trans former newsreader, India Willoughy, who was the first evictee, as India claimed she had a phobia of drag queens (a claim derided by Twitter users who were quick to circulate images of her posing with several drag queens).

It was an extraordinary situation: India is a trans women who does not feel any affinity with the wider LGBT+ community. “I do feel women like me have been sort out drowned out by the LGBT narrative,” she said. “This is part of the problem with being hitched to LGBT, it’s the confusion element.”

Courtney/Shane pointed out that had it not been for LGB and T activists campaigning so ardently for so long, the freedom for a trans person to be a newsreader may not exist.

Indeed, for his part Courtney/Shane has been more than considerate, explaining to other housemates why a trans woman might have a problem with a cis man in drag, and making efforts to increase the group’s understanding of the trans experience. Shane’s approachability and eloquence on the subject has in effect made him the hetero housemates’ queer glossary.

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About GCN

Our cover star this month Michelle Visage talks about the impact of RuPaul’s Drag Race on its contestants and the world, how being the mother of a queer child has made her more political, and how she’ll be behaving on the panel of Ireland’s Got Talent. ACT UP Dublin get real with the government about PrEP, we ask why there is complete invisibility of Roma LGBT people in Ireland, and we meet a contingent of courageous defenders of LGBT+ human rights across the globe. Plus, new dance-pop kids on the block, Sofi Tukker tell us just can’t believe they’re on every radio in the States, and we explore the impact of tech on queer relationships. It’s a meaty mix for February!