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Singer and “RuPaul’s Drag Race” Star @courtneyact Marches to Her Own Drumbeat

To see more of Courtney’s photos, check out @courtneyact on Instagram. For more music stories, head to @music.

In 2008, drag queen Courtney Act (@courtneyact) stood on stage in her hometown of Sydney, Australia, and performed “What About This?” a song about homophobic violence and her experience getting mugged.

“This rally came up, and I ended up singing it just with a guitar,” says the 33-year-old singer. “It was outdoor in this park, and it was a really cool experience. It was the first time I performed my original music in public.”

Courtney initially rose to fame in 2003 on the TV show Australian Idol. A decade later, she was living in Los Angeles, appearing on RuPaul’s Drag Race. Though the venue has changed over the years, Courtney’s commitment to using music to stand up for what she believes in has not.

This month, she released a music video for her song “Ugly,” a track off her new EP Kaleidoscope, which tells the story of a transformative relationship she had with a straight-identifying man. “He’d never been with a nonbiological female before,” says Courtney. “We were together when I was Courtney, and we continued when I was not Courtney.” The overall focus is about sexual and gender fluidity. However, Courtney didn’t always know where she stood on either subject. “This year I’ve come to discover more about myself,” she says. “I used to kind of put [my gender and sexuality] into a rigid box where I was, like, a gay man, and now over the last year I’ve become a lot more comfortable with everything, and I’ve realized that my sexuality and my gender are both fluid, and there’s nothing wrong with that.”

That’s why Courtney uses social media to shine a light on herself and other people. The singer’s Instagram shows everything from glamorous professional portraits to her in a bathtub shaving her legs. Her photos are a reflection of the full spectrum of her real life. “I remember the pop stars that I looked up to in the ’90s and 2000s were always kind of untouchable and perfect,” she says. “I think that people love to see silly, fun things – things that aren’t polished.”

Her photos are also about celebration, she says. “Celebrate those things about yourself that you’re ashamed of, because there’s a reason that you’re ashamed of it, and if it’s who you are, there’s nothing you can do about it. And when you do celebrate it, you will learn that it could actually be your greatest strength and not a weakness at all.”

For Courtney, celebrating her authentic self is still the best form of activism. “I think that if you just beat your own drum then people will stand up and take notice of that.”

– Instagram @music

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