MY DRAG STORY: Nana Miss Koori

Photo credit: Carol Muller

Miss Nana Koori shared her story at the sell-out premiere of My Drag Story at Mardi Gras 2021. Hear from a brand spanking, glittering, new lineup at the Pride Weekender edition of My Drag Story on June 19.

My name is Graham Simms and I was born on Gadigal Country.  

I have strong connections to the 29 clan groups that make up the Sydney Basin, known as Eora Nation and strong connections to Nowra on the South Coast of NSW.  

Growing up I felt different. I didn’t fit in with my two brothers.  

I recall noticing how beautiful my Mum, Aunties and Grandmother all looked. They had this classy look. I would sneak into Mum’s bedroom in search for her makeup. Shortly after, I started entertaining myself with her clothes and shoes. I believe that’s where my journey started.  

I loved horses and dreamt of becoming a famous Aboriginal jockey.  

Around 17, after excelling at pony club and local horse shows, I got involved in racing stables. I was used and exploited; plenty of work, but never any weekly wages. But I felt like I belonged somewhere, and I wanted to make a name for myself. 

I left not long after, did a few courses at TAFE and scored a job at Kmart.  

I met a guy who worked in the gardening section. Many of you would know him. He’s known around Oxford Street as Maxxi.

I still felt I had to prove myself to my brothers. I met a beautiful woman and not long after we were dating.  

One night, my girl and I travelled to Sydney for a night out with her brother. He was dressed up in women’s clothes and we hit it off.  

It was such a big eye opener. I loved what I saw.  

I was having ‘eyes for guys’ and I didn’t feel comfortable. I had to be respectful and not hurt my girl. But not long after that we separated.  

I was trying to find who I was or where I fitted in. I wanted to find my mob. 

It was the mid-1990s and I was excited to see drag queens performing. I was mesmerised by the glitz and glamour. I thought to myself how amazing it would be as an Aboriginal person to be up on stage performing. I was curious about drag shows and trying to find my gay brothers and sisters. In search of my mob, my partner at that time and I saw shows together at the Imperial and Newtown Hotels.  

That’s where I saw my mob of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander gays and our friendship sparked from there.  

Tiddas is a term that our First Nations mob use. Whether you are gay, lesbian, transgender, bi or however you identify, Tiddas is about belonging and identifying in a respectful manner.  

Today, I’ve been to places like, Northern Ireland, Athens, Philippines, Melbourne, Brisbane, and on board a UK World Cruise.  

To be a strong leader and advocate for our First Nations LGBTQI+ mob is my visibility.

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Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we celebrate and work.

We pay our respects to Elders past and present and recognise the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities.

Always was, always will be Aboriginal Land.

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Acknowledgement of country

Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras acknowledges that our events take place on Aboriginal land. We acknowledge the Gadigal, Cammeraygal, Bidigal, Darug and Dharawal people who are the Traditional Custodians of the Sydney Basin.

We pay our Respects to their Elders past and present. Always was Always will be Aboriginal Land.