‘Caught in the Act’ By Shane Jenek also known as Courtney Act, is a memoir of self-acceptance and a book which will spark a greater understanding of the LGBTQ+ community. It’s also a total romp that will see you join the author in their toilet stall trysts, backstage at the ARIAs, touring bars across America and the highs and lows of being paid to party. Identity is a key subject of the title, and its many parts are considered with laugh out loud humour and fearless honesty on subjects from gender to sex, identity, career, friendship, family and love.
Our author grew up in suburban Brisbane with doting parents who enabled Shane to follow his passion for the performing arts, spending most of his time out of school in musical theatre, singing and (in the Spice Girls era) starting a pop band. At 18, Shane was a moth to the flame of Sydney’s iconic community of Darlinghurst and its sprawl of clubs and shops on Oxford Street. Here he learns important life lessons and sharpens his entrepreneurial and performance skills, coming into the full colours of his personality with drag queen persona Courtney Act.
You might remember Courtney (and Shane) as when they both auditioned for Australian Idol, only Courtney made the cut, and over ten years later she is on the hit show RuPaul’s Drag Race in the United States and Celebrity Big Brother UK. As a consequence of their burgeoning media career, and finding their place in adulthood, the author tackles the complex idea of inhabiting different personas and being comfortable where you land, from gender, to sexuality or double-edged-sword of one’s identity in real life as opposed to the portrayal of yourself on TV.
Enclosed, you’ll find helpful colloquial descriptions, or unpacking, of terms and concepts that the author has learnt along the way. These range from gender fluidity and sex, to the LGBTQ+ experience and definitions and much more. It’s interesting hearing from someone from within the experience share their journey about understanding themselves and their peers. The author is open about not knowing it all but being willing to learn and in turn becoming an educated and empathetic advocate. It’s a generous and brave diaristic style, as they mention in their musings, empathy is not just accepting someone’s world view but being willing to see it through their eyes.
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