Former RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant Chi Chi DeVayne has died aged 34.
DeVayne, who was born Zavion Davenport, appeared on two series of the hit reality show, in 2016 and 2018. Having been hospitalised earlier this year for suspected kidney failure, DeVayne was readmitted with pneumonia. In a video message last week, DeVayne had asked fans to “keep me in your prayers, I’ll be back soon”.
DeVayne had been diagnosed in 2018 with scleroderma, an autoimmune condition that causes the body’s connective tissues to scar and harden.
A statement from DeVayne’s family described their “tremendous sorrow” and added that “[Davenport’s] final words to family and fans [were] ‘never give up’”.
World of Wonder, the production company that makes Drag Race, released a statement saying they were “heartbroken” to hear of the news, adding that DeVayne “spread a message of love and kindness that truly touched each person she met. Rest in power, Chi Chi.”
Leading the tributes on Twitter, Drag Race host RuPaul said DeVayne was a “kind and beautiful soul … may her generous and loving spirit shine down on us all”.
Shea Couleé, winner of the most recent series of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars, said: “I’m devastated and sick to my stomach. Wake me up when it’s all over.”
The Louisiana-born performer came to prominence during the eighth season of Drag Race, which aired in 2016. DeVayne also appeared on the third season of All Stars.
The Drag Race franchise, a global hit, now boasts various international spin-offs including in Canada and Thailand. Baga Chipz, a finalist on the first series of the UK version of the show, said DeVayne was “so kind to me at a time I was really low. I’m just sat here in tears. RIP you beautiful angel.”