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 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.