LGBTQ+ dance music artist and RuPaul’s Drag Race collaborator Ari Gold has died after a long battle with leukemia. He was 47.
Gold’s passing was confirmed by production company World of Wonder, the producers of RuPaul’s Drag Race. The DJ was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome in 2013 before overcoming the blood cancer via a bone marrow transplant in 2019.
Drag icon RuPaul Charles, whom Gold worked closely with throughout the years, called the musician a “dear friend.” “Love you always,” RuPaul wrote on Instagram.
Born in the Bronx, Gold enjoyed a steady rise to fame with his R&B-influenced dance sound after starting out as a performer in New York City’s bars throughout the early aughts. His 2004 sophomore album Space Under Sun spawned “Wave of You,” which became the first music video from an openly LGBTQ+ artist to be aired on Viacom’s Logo TV channel.
Gold also performed alongside Diana Ross, Cyndi Lauper and Boy George, all the while working on his acting career. In addition to minor film and TV roles, he also appeared in RuPaul’s 2007 film, Starrbooty, and starred in the autobiographical theatre show Ari Gold – Untitled: The Making of a Gay Pop Star.
Following news of his death, many of Gold’s friends have paid tribute to the LGBTQ+ artist, including actress Laverne Cox, who remembered Gold as a trailblazing queer artist.
“So many memories. Some of my favorites would be when we would be at the club back in the ’90s talking intersectional feminist and queer theory in a corner for far too long. You played your demos for me at your apartment on West 16th Street before you released your first album,” Cox wrote on Instagram. “I’m so utterly devastated that you’ve moved on today. But I know you’ll be watching over me as you always have. I’m so grateful to have known you.”
RIP, Ari Gold. Revisit his self-titled debut album below: