Cherry Valentine, RuPaul's Drag Race UK season 2 queen, dies at 28

RuPaul's Drag Race UK season 2 queen Cherry Valentine has died at age 28.

"We are heartbroken to learn of the passing of George Ward, a.k.a. Cherry Valentine," Drag Race production company World of Wonder confirmed on Instagram. "As an artist, nurse, and an activist, Cherry will always remain a beloved member of our Drag Race family. Cherry's love and irresistibly infectious laugh touched the lives of so many. Our deepest condolences go out to her family and friends."

A cause of death was not reported, though Cherry's family released a statement to the BBC expressing dismay over her death.

Drag Race UK
Drag Race UK

World of Wonder 'RuPaul's Drag Race UK' season 2 star Cherry Valentine has died at age 28.

"This will come as a profound shock to most people and we understand there is no easy way for this to be announced," the statement read. "We understand how much he is loved and how many lives he has inspired and touched. All we ask is for your patience and your prayers in this time. We love you, Georgie."

Cherry first rose to prominence on the sophomore season of RuPaul's Drag Race UK and was eliminated on the second episode. Before joining the cast, she worked through the coronavirus pandemic as a nurse for the National Health Service. The BBC later released a 2022 documentary about her life, Cherry Valentine: Gypsy Queen and Proud, which chronicled her exit from the Gypsy community. She also appeared in Charli XCX's "Good Ones" music video in late 2021.

Drag Race UK head judge and host RuPaul honored Cherry's memory by calling her "a bright star and a lovely person," and said that she would be "always in our hearts."

Scores of Cherry's Drag Race sisters also spoke about her after the news broke, including her fellow season 2 contestant Tia Kofi.

"Completely devastated and shook by the news about our friend Cherry. She was extremely kind, generous and talented," Tia tweeted.

Season 2 runner-up Bimini Bon-Boulash said she was "at a loss for words."

"One of those souls so pure, so raw, so real. I'm incredibly lucky to have known George and witnessed their infectious spirit," Bimini tweeted. "Their patience and kindness was their superpower. They saw you for you and not many people have that empathetic trait."

Season 1 winner The Vivienne also tweeted that she had "no words" upon learning of Cherry's passing.

"My thoughts and prayers go out to all of your family," The Vivienne wrote, with season 1 runner-up Divina de Campo adding, "This is terribly sad. Such a sweetheart who had achieved so much for her communities. Condolences to everyone who knew her. So shocked."

Another season 1 queen, Baga Chipz, commented on WOW's post, writing "rest up, beautiful girl" and sharing a heart emoji in the comments section.

Michelle Visage, who sat next to RuPaul on the Drag Race UK season 1 panel, called Cherry a "beautiful soul" in a commemorative post.

"Cherry, you beautiful soul. After watching your documentary my eyes were opened and I learned so much and I thank you for that, for teaching me. I hate that you had any doubts about who you were because to me you were perfect," Visage wrote. "I only wish you were here to teach me more. You were one of a kind with a laugh as big as your heart. This is truly heartbreaking. Rest peacefully, superstar."

Season 13 queen Olivia Lux praised Cherry's "talent and light," while season 14 star (and U.K. native) Lady Camden said she was "heartbroken" over Cherry's death. "Be free, Angel," she wrote.

Cherry is the third global Drag Race queen to have died since the franchise launched in 2009. American Drag Race season 2 contestant Sahara Davenport died of heart failure in 2012, followed by season 8 and All Stars 2 alum Chi Chi DeVayne, who died in August 2020.

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