Cherry Valentine, contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK Season 2, has died at the age of 28. A statement from Valentine’s parents released by their agent reads, “It is with the most heart wrenching and deepest sadness to inform you that our George — Cherry Valentine — has tragically passed away.”
The statement continues: “This will come as a profound shock to most people & we understand there is no easy way for this to be announced. As his family, we are still processing his death and our lives will never be the same. 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.”
Born on November 30, 1993, George Ward represented for their hometown of Darlington on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK Season 2, where they competed as their dark, gothic alter-ego Cherry Valentine. “I’m not a comedy queen, I’m not a performance queen, I’m not a look queen — I’m all of them,” said Valentine in their intro interview. “Watch out bitches, here I am!”
Valentine immediately won hearts with their entrance into the Werk Room, which had to be redone when her bloody heart headpiece couldn’t fit through the door. True to Valentine’s positive outlook and lovable charm, they took the moment in stride like a true professional and delivered their entrance line: “Roses are red, violets are blue, here’s your winner of Season 2.”
Production on Drag Race UK Season 2 was halted at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The break lasted for seven months, during which Valentine — who worked as a mental health nurse prior to competing on Drag Race — provided care as an essential worker. Their journey during those seven months was chronicled along with the rest of the cast’s during the season’s “Queens on Lockdown” special.
Furthermore, Valentine’s Romani heritage and life as a drag queen were the subject of a documentary, Cherry Valentine: Gypsy Queen and Proud, which was released earlier this year. During their time on Drag Race, Valentine spoke openly about their relationship with their heritage and their struggles with their culture’s views on queerness.
In a statement, BBC Three — Drag Race UK’s home network — said, “A fan favourite and an inspiration to so many, we were privileged to have worked with him at BBC Three. He will be hugely missed by his many fans and friends. Our deepest sympathies are with his family and friends at this difficult time.”
Valentine’s UK sisters have reacted on social media.