Drag Race star Adore Delano has publicly come out as trans, describing her transition as carrying her “from dysphoria to euphoria.” But it turns out this isn’t exactly the first time she has spoken up about her identity, and Delano explained how the pressures of television and public scrutiny pushed her back into the closet.
On Wednesday, Delano posted an emotional video to Instagram, addressing the online speculation about her gender and her body. “I wanted to let everybody know that I am transitioning, and I kept it really, kind of hush-hush the first three months because I wanted to go through the beginning stages of the puberty privately,” she said.
“I have found it has been very enlightening and probably the happiest in my adult life.”
Delano went on to explain that she has always known she was trans, even if she couldn’t always describe her identity in those terms. She came out as bisexual at 12 and later as gay, and throughout high school, she presented as a girl.
“I came out to my mom as transgender,” she recalled. “I didn’t know the words for that. I just told my mom ‘I’m not a boy, I’m a girl. I want to live my life as a girl.’ And I’m so blessed to have a mom, especially in the subculture that I grew up in, that was so understanding. She was so understanding with everything and she said, ‘Let’s figure it out and get you through school and know how to put ’em up and fight when you need to.'”
O’Connor helped distribute makeup and clothing to trans folks that needed it.
In 2008, when she was still a teenager, Delano became a contestant on season six and seven of American Idol, and the sudden national attention led her to “suppress everything.”
“I threw it away, I burned it,” she said. “I reinvented myself into something that was so uncomfortable – it was almost like a sacrifice to get everything I wanted and it almost made sense to myself as a 16-year-old. And then I got on the show and then carried on the storyline to Drag Race.”
After placing in the top three of Drag Race season six, Delano would join the second season of All Stars before quitting due to performance constraints. But although Drag Race gave her the opportunity for more self-expression, she was still grappling with that “reinvented” self. “I looked at videos of myself and I would just drink my days away because these emotions that I didn’t want to deal with were on the backseat,” she said
Becoming sober allowed Delano to reflect on these feelings and come to terms with her identity.
“I am transgender,” she summed up. “My pronouns moving from me not wanting to like offend anybody and be like, you can call me whatever you want. No, I’m taking the goddamn chariot right now. I’m going by she/her.”
Now, happily transitioning, Delano is taking estrogen and planning for gender-affirming surgery in November. “I’m living in my world now,” she said, “and it feels so empowering, and it feels so good. It feels so liberating.”