RuPaul’s Drag Race star Courtney Act has revealed that meditation and mindfulness helped her manage to live with anti-LGBTIQ celebrities in the Celebrity Big Brother UK (CBB UK) house last year.
The Brisbane-born drag superstar said that meditation practices helped her win the 21st season of CBB UK by enabling her to live alongside fellow contestants, including anti-LGBTIQ politician Ann Widdecombe.
Widdecombe repeatedly voted against establishing LGBTIQ rights as a British Conservative minister and Shadow Home Secretary, and opposed repealing the infamous Section 28, an amendment to the Local Government Act 1988, which banned local schools and authorities from ‘promoting’ homosexuality.
Act, who identifies as pansexual, spent the season calmly educating other CBB UK contestants on sexuality and gender, such as the evening she explained the difference between being a drag queen and being transgender.
During an interview with HuffPost last month, Act noted that maintaining her patience was the best way she could “drive change forward,” with her housemates.
“It’s so easy to be polarised and yell from different sides of the room about certain subjects, but I think it’s so much better to walk into the middle and have a conversation,” Act noted.
“It’s very easy to not be patient, especially when it’s not just people’s ideas, but you’re living with someone like Ann and her voting record over the course of 23 years.
“It can be very easy to feel anger towards that injustice, but I think meditating helped me keep my patience.”
‘Courtney Act’, a pun on the phrase “caught in the act” when pronounced with an Australian accent, came to public prominence after appearing on the first season of Australian Idol in 2003.
Her star continued to rise when she competed in season six of RuPaul’s Drag Race in 2014.
The drag queen, whose real name is Shane Jenek, discovered the power of meditation when she spent 10 days at a silent Vipassana meditation retreat with no phone, TV or books.
Act told HuffPost she escaped to the retreat when “it all hit the fan” in 2008, following heartbreak and a skiing accident.
“I was in a wheelchair with a broken leg, I had no ability to work and make money, I was staying at a friend’s place and everything was miserable. Then I decided to just go and try it,” she said.
Free from distraction, Act admitted that while staying silent for eleven days was easier than expected, meditating for eleven hours each day was “the hardest but most rewarding thing” she’s ever done.
“I arrived thinking: ‘How can you learn anything from sitting still and meditating? How can you grow from that?’
“But it was so fascinating the sense of peace that I came back with, and the tool of meditation that I was then able to implement into my everyday life.”
Aside from bigoted politicians, Act also described how meditation has helped her reframe past trauma from being bullied as a teenager which has helped her significantly in the present.
“So many reactions in our lives are based on what happened to us when we were younger,” she noted.
“You’re not automatically and unconsciously reacting to past conditions, you’re able to have a moment of breath and view the situation more objectively.”