Tragedy has struck the RuPaul’s Drag Race community. The beloved Chi Chi DeVayne (stage name of Zavion Davenport), a drag queen who competed on two seasons of the show, died on Aug. 20, 2020 at age 34, per Entertainment Weekly. According to Out, Devayne was admitted to the hospital in July 2020 for suspected kidney failure, released, and hospitalized again in August for pneumonia. At one point during the most recent hospitalization, the star addressed fans via an Instagram video message. “Keep me in your prayers,” DeVayne said at the time. “I’ll be back soon.”
The show’s production company said it was “heartbroken” in a statement issued after DeVayne’s passing. “Her drag spread a message of love and kindness that truly touched each person she met. Rest in power, Chi Chi,” the statement said, via Yahoo! Entertainment.
DeVayne first entered the werkroom in Season 8 of the Emmy-winning competition show, winning over fans and the other contestants with genuine kindness — and grit. The southern queen turned out to be a “lip sync assassin,” knocking off multiple competitors — most notably Thorgy Thor — with a powerful, pearl-dropping rendition of Jennifer Holiday’s “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going.” DeVayne placed fourth that season and returned for All Stars 3.
The fan favorite from Shreveport, La. garnered a large Instagram following and kept fans posted throughout her health challenges. Sadly, there’s more to Chi Chi Devayne’s battle than just a sudden illness.
Chi Chi DeVayne struggled with health issues for years
Chi Chi DeVayne had been struggling with health issues since 2018. According to Out, the star was diagnosed at the time with scleroderma, “a condition that attacks various internal organs.” The rare and life-threatening condition literally translates to “hard skin” and is reportedly caused by the immune system attacking one’s own body.
Devayne remained upbeat and inspirational throughout the ordeal, and fellow RuPaul’s Drag Race contestants and the superstar’s millions of fans had rallied around the Bayou beauty. According to Out, Priyanka, a contestant on the first season of Canada’s Drag Race, raised $900 to help support DeVayne’s hospitalization, and All Stars 5 winner Shea Coulee had been selling a print of one of her All Stars season 5 outfits to benefit DeVayne.
The late queen will always be a series favorite — one who didn’t let competition impact her kindness. “She will be dearly missed, but never forgotten,” RuPaul tweeted. “May her generous and loving spirit shine down on us all.”
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