RUPAUL'S Drag Race star Cherry Valentine passed away last week at 28 years old, leaving fans shocked.
The family of Cherry, also known as George Ward, announced his death in a statement Friday morning, prompting tributes from fans, friends, and fellow drag stars.
One fan tweeted, "If there is a heaven, Chi Chi Devayne and Cherry Valentine will be planning to put on the gig of the century. What a show it would be."
DeVayne passed away in 2020 after complications from scleroderma and pneumonia, while Davenport died in 2012 from heart failure at the age of 27.
Read our Cherry Valentine live blog for the latest news and updates…
Fan shares snippet of Charli XCX music video
A fan has shared a small part of the Charli XCX music video which featured Cherry Valentine in a tweet.
“They slayed hard here and I will never forget this video especially with the fact that Cherry Valentine was in this,” the fan wrote.
“She’s still very much alive in our hearts. They all did an amazing job and I’m so grateful to Charli for this music video.”
Cherry Valentine appeared in Charli XCX music video
In the 2022 special, called Gypsy Queen And Proud, he revisited the community he left aged 18.
He also performed publicly and appeared in music videos by artists such as Charli XCX.
Cherry featured in a special Halloween performance with Charli XCX for her latest single Good Ones.
How Cherry became a drag queen
Cherry was first introduced to drag as a student at Lancaster University.
She told BBC News in a 2021 interview, “I went to Manchester for a couple of nights out and thought ‘this is crazy, this is what I want to do.’ That’s when Cherry was born.”
Cherry also said she had a love for dressing up even before she was introduced to drag.
Cherry Valentine joined the show to be an inspiration
Cherry Valentine joined RuPaul’s Drag Race to show people, “whoever you are, you can do what makes you happy.”
She told the BBC that coming from a strict background, participating in drag was “not really classed as normal.”
Cherry stated of her hometown Darlington, County Durham, “I’m excited to bring the world’s eye to Darlington because it’s such a crazy town. We’re all a bit odd!”
She was also excited to join the show because to her, drag was art.
Cherry loaned her costumes to Middlesbrough’s Dorman Museum
Cherry loaned five of her costumes to Middlesbrough’s Dorman Museum as part of the 2021 exhibition A Curious Night at the Museum.
Curator Zoe Wilson told BBC News, “Cherry was really excited to be involved in the project and having the costumes on display here,”
Wilson added of the exhibit, “It was a real juxtaposition – you have these old taxidermy birds in a Victorian setting and this huge drag queen display and it just worked.
Even the traditional older visitors were saying, ‘Wow, look at that.'”
Cherry had a love of nursing
PlastiQ said that even after Cherry became a famous drag queen, she still wanted to continue nursing.
Cherry told PlastiQ before she passed, “I want to be a nurse, being a nurse was my first love, I want to keep doing that – drag I’ll keep doing when I can.”
Memorable quotes from Cherry Valentine
- “Roses are red and violets are blue. Here’s your winner of season two.” (entrance quote)
- “The one thing I do know about tennis is how much people grunt, and I’m a squealer.”
- “It is absolute pandemonium. People are trying to find a workspace, and I want a good workspace. I’ll trample a bitch.”
- “I feel robbed.” (after being eliminated)
- “Oh rats!” (exit quote)
British stars pay tribute
Good Morning Britain star Charlotte, 47, paid a poignant tribute to her late friend Cherry Valentine on social media as she shared a photo of herself with the star.
She wrote: “Very sad to hear that Cherry Valentine has died, aged just 28. We met back in June at Epsom – so full of life then, it’s hard to believe.
“Sending love to George’s family & friends, just heartbreaking.”
BBC controller hails George and Cherry
Fiona Campbell, controller of BBC Three which broadcasts RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, hailed George and Cherry as an “inspiration” to so many.
She said: “We are all shocked and heartbroken to hear the news of the passing of George, known to many as Cherry Valentine.
“A fan favorite 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.”
BBC Three shares documentary amidst Cherry’s death
Cherry’s documentary “Cherry Valentine: Gypsy Queen and Proud” premiered on BBC Three earlier this year.
The film followed George’s life coming out while being a part of the Gypsy community.
After feeling rejected, he left his Gypsy identity behind and created his alter ego, “Cherry Valentine.”
The BBC Three tweeted in honor of George’s passing, praising him for wanting to be an inspiration for himself.
They added, “We are incredibly proud to have been able to make a powerful documentary with him about the traveler LGBTQ+ community, which he was so passionate about.”
Origin of Cherry Valentine’s name
In a Q&A session on Drag Race UK Twitter, Cherry answered a question from a fan who asked her how she came up with her drag name.
Cherry said she was inspired by a cherry-scented bath wash she used when showering, and because she loves her grandmother who likes drinking sherry (cause it sounds like cherry).
She decided to use ‘Valentine’ because she loves Valentine’s Day and love.
Second season star
She came in 12th place and was eliminated in episode 2 of the season.
Upon leaving the show she left the remaining contestants with the message “Always remember Love yourself first. Can’t wait to pop your cherries again! Hate. C”
Who was Cherry Valentine?
Growing up, George was part of a traveler community and qualified as a mental health nurse in 2015, before starting a career in drag and becoming Cherry Valentine.
She is best known for starring on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK.
Cherry was also part of the BBC documentary Gypsy Queen And Proud.
Gay Times posts tribute
Gay Times, a magazine dedicated to LGBTQ+ content posted a tribute for Cherry.
The magazine tweeted, “We are incredibly sad to report the death of Cherry Valentine.
"An incredible drag queen, beloved Ru girl, key worker and activist.
"Rest in power, Cherry.”
Season 2 cast loved having Cherry on the show
A clip of the season 2 cast of RuPaul’s Drag Race resurfaced on social media talking about Cherry.
Contestant Asttina Mandella stated in the clip, “I have absolute so much love for her.”
Joe Black added, “Oh, Cherry loves drag.”
Veronica Green concluded the clip by stating, “She’s such a calming energy like it’s nice to have somebody like that in the cast.”
One fan tweeted the video and stated, “Hearing Cherry Valentine’s S2 sisters talk about her just affirms the pro and creative starlet she is.”
BBC Three adds to the collection of favorite looks
BBC Three posted in honor of Cherry Valentine’s best looks.
The official Twitter account posted a series of Cherry’s famous outfits stating she, “sparkled with personality and flair.”
Fans are remembering Cherry through her iconic looks
One fan tweeted, “I don’t know if this is a right thing to do but to honor Cherry Valentine’s beautiful artistry, tell me your favorite look from her.”
Fans chimed in posting their favorite Cherry Valentine looks which included a photo from her Easter Series.
Another fan posted a look Cherry did at the end of her documentary when she was driving to London.
Cherry’s Gay Times “Organic Galaxy” look was also among the favorites posted.
Throne Events thanks fans
In light of Cherry’s passing, Throne Events posted on their Facebook how uplifting it has been to see tributes in honor of the drag star.
The post read that although saying goodbye to George was a difficult day, “it ended feeling uplifting, an inspirational show of love for an inspirational brother, son, friend, artist, creator, nurse, key worker and icon!”
The company also thanked everyone who had posted for Cherry and signed the book of condolences.
What is Throne Events?
Last month the company announced that in light of the cost of living crisis, they would be pledging reduced tickets.
The company also introduced discounts for those who bought in a group and absorbed all administration and booking fees so fans could enjoy a low-cost show.
Throne Events statement
Throne Events, an ethical LGBTQ+ event company that Cherry helped found posted a statement on their website in honor of the star.
The statement began, “It is with the deepest sadness and heartbreak that we announce the passing of our beloved friend and company director George – Cherry Valentine.”
“We will always remember George with love and we will always remember his art, creativeness, dedication to mental health services and his contagious laugh.”
GoFundMe for George Ward’s vigil
A GoFundMe has been set up for George’s vigil by a friend of the drag star.
The description discusses George’s achievements including his time on RuPaul’s Drag Race, his persona as Cherry Valentine, and the two singles he released with his friend Katie.
It also mentions George’s ethical LGBTQ+ events company that he started in June 2021 with his friends Adam and Sam.
The GoFundMe has already generated over £12,000 for the “George – Cherry Valentine Legacy Fundraiser,” surpassing its goal of £10,000.
Fans are signing Cherry’s book of condolences
Almost 2,000 comments have been left on Cherry’s virtual book of condolences.
One guest comment read, “Just another message from a stranger who admired your work, but as a front line worker and as a drag entertainer, loved your laugh and just wanted to say you’ll be deeply missed. RIP”
Another shared, “A Romani queen and legend like no other, my thoughts, condolences, and love go out to George’s family and friends during this unimaginably difficult time.”
The site also includes a link to a GoFundMe which will help fund George’s funeral.
A passion for mental health
George Ward, also known as Cherry Valentine, trained as a mental health nurse in 2015.
In April, Ward took to Instagram writing: “I became a Mental Health Nurse in 2015 for a lot of reasons, the main one being that I just wanted to help those who needed it.
“It’s extremely difficult for one person to change a system, and a societal view, but the positive collaborative work between people really does have the power to change the world, raise awareness, shed light, and that is what campaigns like this can continue to do.”