The coronavirus pandemic has changed everything, and that includes how we’re all celebrating Pride in 2020.
With huge public gatherings out of the question, we’re asking a range of LGBTQ celebrities and allies for their personal Pride anthems, to help us all get into the Pride spirit from lockdown.
Today we’re speaking to drag superstar Courtney Act, who first rose to fame in her native Australia on the talent show Australian Idol, before landing a spot in the sixth series of RuPaul’s Drag Race, where she made it all the way to the final.
In more recent years, you may have seen Courtney in the Celebrity Big Brother house, winning the reality show’s penultimate show, which helped raise her profile here in the UK.
Fresh from announcing her 2021 tour of the UK and Ireland, Courtney shared her personal Pride playlist with HuffPost UK for our My Pride Anthems series, and narrowing her songs down was clearly not a decision she took lightly.
Speaking to us from her flat in London, Courtney compared picking her Pride anthems to “Sophie’s choice”, literally deleting and adding songs to her list as the conversation went on. After much deliberation, here are the tunes she eventually settled on...
Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande – Rain On Me
″[I picked this] just because she is the woman of the hour. I wish I could just say Chromatica the album, from beginning to end. But Rain On Me is the pop banger that we got the music video for, with Ariana Grande, that we get to dance around to.
“I had all of these LED lights and a smoke machine in my flat, and on the day Chromatica came out, I was like ‘I am going to do this properly’. I’ve always been a Lady Gaga fan, but it actually brings me joy to get to love Lady Gaga every day again, so I put on the lights, I put on the smoke machine, I put the album on really loud and literally danced around the apartment in my undies to it, all night long. I think the moment everybody appreciates is the drop from Chromatica II into 911. To me, that is gay rights.
“I played that transition about 12 times, and then I thought ‘my poor neighbours’, so I put on my headphones... and then I continued to dance around to it all night.”
Lizzo – Juice
“I had a playlist of pre-show music for my last tour, and I just decided that I was only going to play queer artists. And Lizzo was the only exception that I made. But I just feel that she embodies the spirit of the queer identity.
“I feel like her ownership over her identity, her body and how she expresses her sexuality... like, some of the stuff she posts on Instagram of herself in lingerie, or her bum, unapologetically – and rightfully so, unapologetically – but which so often has been consistently apologised for by everybody. She’s just like ‘this is my bum, it’s big, it’s round, it’s beautiful’, and I just think it’s queering our public perception of the body beautiful. I just think it’s so powerful.
“If you love the skin you’re in, then regardless of where you go from there, you’re in a place of acceptance, and I think it’s so important that everybody – men and women – love and accept who they are. And there’s something about that which is so parallel or adjacent to the queer movement, it’s about learning to love and accept ourselves in a world that tells us we should be something else.”
Little Mix – Power
“I had the privilege of being in this music video, with Jade and her girl squad. It’s such a great song of empowerment for women. And I love Little Mix, the UK loves Little Mix and here we all are together loving Little Mix.”
Troye Sivan – My My My!
“Troye Sivan is Aussie, he’s queer, I love his music. And the cool thing about Troye is that because he was a YouTuber first, and he was out, he entered the pop world and was allowed to be himself from the beginning, because he was already publicly known, and there’s something very powerful about that.
“And I actually I met him! He came to one of my gigs in Washington DC… well, hang on. Let me say, he was at the club that I performed at, and I met him afterwards. The self-deprecating part of me is like ‘he just happened to be there’. He may have been there to see me perform, but I think maybe he was just there. But I did meet him and he is very, very sweet.”
Mila Jam – Eye On You
“Mila Jam is an artist that I just discovered, I saw a video of her giving a speech at a rally. I heard her speak, and she had great heart, and she was doing this thing with a large crowd of people – in a seemingly impromptu setting, it wasn’t like she was on stage – where she was getting them to repeat after her. And she was repeating these affirmations about identity, and everyone was saying it along with her in a call and response sort of thing. And I was like ‘who is she?’.
“So, I clicked on her profile, I didn’t even know she was queer, and saw that she had music, and started listening to her songs. I just put them all on and listened to them, but I’ve gone for her latest release, just because it’s her latest release, and it’s fun pop music.”
MNEK and Hailee Steinfeld – Colour
“This is just a really good jam, and it was actually also the theme song for The Bi Life, the UK’s first bisexual dating show, which I hosted, so that was cool.
“MNEK is a really cool artist, I saw him perform at a Pride In London dinner. It was like a sit-down dinner. It was a Pride dinner, so it wasn’t super stuffy, but everybody was giving speeches, and then he came on, with his dancers, and everyone sat there for the first bit being a bit of a passive audience, and by the end, everybody was on the dance floor. Someone even got naked, in a hotel ballroom. Everybody was dancing, and living their best life, and this girl started taking off her clothes, there were people dancing on the furniture, and I’ve never seen a room go from black tie, formal to… I was like ‘I need to get this jacket off, I need to to unbutton this top’, and obviously this girl was feeling the same, but to the next level. And she got naked.
“And more than his music, knowing that he as an artist has that ability when performing live to create that vibe in what was a formal environment, I found so inspiring as a fellow artist. I’ve performed at those gigs, I know what it’s like. But he fucking turned it out.”
Courtney Act – One Tonight
“This is an anthemic song, it’s got key changes, it’s got vocal slides, and it’s about ‘if the one thing you see is the different in me, then you’re looking at the wrong thing’. It’s about acknowledging the common thread of humanity that binds us all, and celebrating that. And it’s a big anthemic song,.
“I actually wrote this song as a submission for Eurovision, and my other song Fight For Love ended up being the one that we chose. I always knew that this song, One Tonight, was going to one day be the song that could have got me to Eurovision. But at the time it wasn’t right, and I couldn’t work out what was missing. And then it dawned on me – there’s a moment in one of Kylie’s tours where she sings The Crying Game and there’s a key change and flower petals fall from the ceiling, and I sent that to the producer, and I said ‘this is what needs to happen in One Tonight’. And he did it so beautifully, I think it’s my favourite song that I’ve ever written or performed.
“I’m performing it for Global Pride, and it will be on Spotify and iTunes and all of those platforms at the beginning of July. It’s weird, because it wasn’t written in lockdown, but it feels extremely pertinent now.”
Courtney Act will be bringing her Fluid tour to the UK and Ireland in April 2021. For more information visit her website here.
We’ll be adding each celebrity’s song choices to our bumper My Pride Anthems playlist each day. Take a listen below: