Today the “RuPaul’s Drag Race” family is mourning the loss of one of their own. Zavion Davenport, better known by her drag persona, Chi Chi DeVayne, an accomplished entertainer who competed on two seasons of the beloved reality series, has died at age 34 following a battle with pneumonia.
News of the drag queen’s passing came less than a week after DeVayne informed her Instagram followers that she was admitted to the hospital. “Keep me in your prayers. I’ll be back soon,” DeVayne said in a video message shared Saturday morning. Which showed her attached to medical equipment while laying down in a hospital bed.
“His final words to his family and fans, ‘Never give up!'”
DeVayne’s family shared a post later in the day on the star’s Instagram account. “It is with tremendous sorrow that my family and I announce the passing of my beloved son, Zavion Michael Davenport. The world renowned ‘Chi Chi DeVayne,'” the post read. The family said plans for final arrangements were still forthcoming and shared “his final words to his family and fans, ‘Never give up!'”
DeVayne was previously hospitalized in July with high blood pressure and suspected kidney failure. She told her fans that she had catheters to her heart and kidneys surgically installed before undergoing dialysis treatment. She was eventually discharged later that month.
“Bottling this up has had me in a state of depression”
Back in 2018 DeVayne revealed that she had been diagnosed with scleroderma. A condition in which the body’s immune system attacks vital organs, blood vessels and tissues.
“Bottling this up has had me in a state of depression,” she said at the time. “It has made me hate my appearance and also made me stray away from the public eye. But I’m no longer hiding and living in a state of fear. I just ask you all to keep me in your prayers as I battle with this life changing illness.”
Millions of fans, and the entire RuPaul’s Drag Race community, have spent all summer rallying around the beloved bayou queen. Sending thoughts and prayers and tips to her when she needed it most.
Chi Chi’s Legacy
Born Zavion Davenport, Chi Chi came to Drag Race from Shreveport, Louisiana. She rose to national prominence on season 8 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” where she dazzled with her quick wit and personality before finishing the competition in fourth place.
Her performance on the season, including a passionate lip-sync to Jennifer Holliday’s “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.” And a win in the “Drag-Apella” music challenge led her to be invited back on All Stars season three. Where she finished in sixth place.
“I was always a little performer”
Still, she often credited the series with inspiring her to evolve her skills in an art form that served as a gateway for her to escape a difficult upbringing involving gangs and struggles with her sexuality.
“I was always a little performer,” she once said on “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” “My uncle used to stage talent shows with all us cousins, and my mom saw something in me. She had me in gymnastics, and I was in a dance company in my 20s.”
In addition to her appearances on RuPaul’s Drag Race, DeVayne had a small part on season 1 of the Apple TV+ anthology dramedy, “Little America.” A series dedicated to telling the stories of American immigrants. She also appeared on fellow Drag Race alum, Yuhua Hamasaki’s “Bootleg Opinions” YouTube series. And guested on an episode of the popular queer talk show “Hey Qween,” in addition to her various performing gigs and tours as a drag artist.
DeVayne is the second contestant from Drag Race to have died since the show’s inception. Following the death of season 2 contestant, Sahara Davenport, who died of heart failure in 2012.
Condolences and Tributes from Friends and the Drag Race Family
Since news of her death broke, RuPaul and DeVayne’s fellow Drag Race co-stars and friends have paid their tributes to her on social media.
Host and executive producer, RuPaul shared his grief over the loss of their fellow queen. “I am heartbroken to learn of the passing of Chi Chi DeVayne,” RuPaul said in a statement. “I am so grateful that we got to experience her kind and beautiful soul. She will be dearly missed, but never forgotten. May her generous and loving spirit shine down on us all.” RuPaul continued, “On behalf of VH1, World of Wonder and the cast and crew of RuPaul’s Drag Race, I extend my deepest sympathy—from our family to hers.”
World of Wonder, the production company behind the series, also released a statement confirming the sad news. “We’re heartbroken to learn that Chi Chi DeVayne has passed away today. Her drag spread a message of love and kindness that truly touched each person she met,” a statement said. “Rest in power, Chi Chi.”
Drag queen, Trixie Mattel posted a picture with DeVayne, adding three hearts and the caption, “an iconic queen literally everyone in our industry will always love.”
Kennedy Davenport, who competed alongside Chi Chi on season three of Rupaul’s Drag Race All Stars, wrote on Twitter that they were devastated by Chi Chi’s death. “I’m so numb right now my heart is broken into pieces.. I couldn’t even get to see her. I love you always chichi. My dancing angel (sic),” she tweeted.
Recent All Stars winner, Shea Couleé tweeted, “I’m literally so devastated and sick to my stomach. Wake me up when it’s all over.”
The Vixen, Farrah Moan, Pandora Boxx, Aquaria and more Drag Race stars also expressed their condolences on social media.