For the last couple of months I have been playing host to a very special friend – Kurt, hails from a small country town in Italy.

He has never experienced anything quite like drag before, and hence his stay developed from the usual tourist experience to an extraordinary one.

Kurt, alas, went home on Sunday, but before he did he thanked me for opening his eyes to some of the things he would never have seen had I not taken him under my wing during his stay.

The whole conversation, however, sparked a conversation deep inside myself. Is living a drag lifestyle that different from any other gay man with a 9 to 5 job?

We both wear a suit of sorts; we both try to excel in our chosen professions; and we both come home and cherish our time with loved ones. So, when you break it down to the basics there are plenty of similarities. But to experience it through the eyes of a small-town Italian country boy would have been something quite different.

When Kurt and I first met – both in butch male mode – I was concerned about mentioning what I did for a living for fear of his reaction. But then I thought, `Stuff it’ and told him to meet me at work the next day.

When he arrived, Kurt walked past me numerous times. I eventually called him over after deciding to put him out of his misery. I was the subject of numerous ‘Wows’ and laughter for the next hour.

But this was where the rollercoaster began. Kurt became a permanent fixture at every show he could get to. I wasn’t sure of the attraction – was the lights and the glamour? Or was it a hidden desire to be on stage? Whatever the reason, each of my performances was met with a beaming smile. It was rewarding to have someone special in the audience in awe of everything I did.

Kurt was soon offering me song suggestions he thought would ignite my stage performances. He would sit and study make-up application in case he ever needed it for an amateur performance back home. I even found him in a pair of heels once, swishing around the house.

Of course he always claimed he wasn’t interested in wearing a frock. What Kurt found emancipating was the ability to do whatever he wanted without fear of judgment or ridicule.

Of course, I tried to take him to as much drag as possible, be it Priscilla or Dame Edna. Then there were the other necessary experiences – Speedos on Bondi Beach, gay dance clubs, karaoke and the BGF Bake-Off. He always smiled and usually commented with his thick Italian accent: “This is good’.

Kurt left saying he was happy he was gay and wished he could move about in his own community as he could in Sydney. I was moved. I shed a tear.

It is nice to have a special friend on the other side of the world – but it is also nice to know that what we have here in Sydney is special and not to be taken for granted.

Of course, I am already planning my trip to Italy to see Kurt – I am amazed at how much I miss him already. But now I keep asking myself, I am going over to see Kurt, or just to look at more Italian boys?

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