MOVIE NEWS

Chi Chi DeVayne, Drag Race Star, Dies at 34

Our hearts break at the news—Chi Chi DeVayne, gone ungodly early at the age of 34. It’s an unspeakable tragedy for fans of RuPaul’s Drag Race, the queer community at large, and–quite frankly—all of humanity. Chi Chi DeVayne’s spirit—equally scrappy and upbeat in her iconic run on Season 8 of the Emmy-winning show—made her a beloved fan favorite.

DeVayne’s millions of fans, and the entire RuPaul’s Drag Race community, have spent all summer rallying around the beloved bayou queen digitally, sending thoughts and prayers and tips to her when she needed it most. DeVayne first entered the hospital earlier this summer for kidney failure, and then re-entered in the past few weeks where she was diagnosed with pneumonia. All of this was no doubt compounded by DeVayne’s recent diagnosis with scleroderma, a chronic illness that caused thick scar tissues to form around her internal organs.

But DeVayne’s legacy cannot, and will not, be defined by the nightmare of 2020—even if DeVayne’s hospital updates on Instagram were, of course, characteristically inspiring and entertaining. DeVayne could not do less than entertain and inspire; it was natural, as innate as breathing or cutting loose on stage. This is the queen that turned a wardrobe malfunction during a lip sync, a ripped pearl necklace, into a seemingly intentional cascade of emotions that carried through from the pearl-strewn floor to the heavens.

Chi Chi DeVayne didn’t win Season 8, and she didn’t win All Stars 3, but she earned a different kind of crown. Her crown was given to her by the fans, bedazzled with all of the diamonds DeVayne gave us in every single episode of television she appeared in. The lip sync moments, her upside-down twerking, them iconic phrases (“turd city”), and her unparalleled joy over meeting Vanessa Williams (“Eraser, baby!”)—those are the jewels that she gave us. And those are the jewels that are on Chi Chi DeVayne’s eternal crown.

We love her. We will always love her. She will, forever be, exactly what RuPaul’s Drag Race is all about—an upstart from the middle-of-nowhere coming into a competition wearing literal garbage and turning it into treasure, proving that money and privilege can’t buy real, true grace, talent, and confidence. That is Chi Chi DeVayne’s legacy, and nothing—no pneumonia, no scleroderma—can tarnish.

We love you, Chi Chi DeVayne. Long live the Bayou Queen.

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