This afternoon, an official statement confirmed the death of Antoine Ashley, also known as drag performer Sahara Davenport, on Monday morning at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. Ashley was 27.
His mother, Angela Ashley Reddish, spoke fondly of her son: “I thank God for giving me an angel… to share with the rest of the world. My family and I would like to thank everyone for their condolences and support. We know that our angel is now dancing in heaven. May God bless each and everyone.”
Boyfriend Karl Westerberg, also known as fellow RuPaul‘s Drag Race contestant Manila Luzon, said Ashley “lived to entertain the world as Sahara Davenport.” But, explained Westerberg, their connection ran much deeper: “To me he will always be my best friend, my hero, my diva, and I have always considered myself more than lucky to have him be forever a part of my life. Thank you, hon, for bringing so much beauty to all of us. Your legacy lives on in me and all of us you’ve touched.”
In a Twitter post, RuPaul wrote “It never occurred to me that we’d ever lose one of my girls—I see them as immortal.”
A statement from a Logo spokesperson said the network was “profoundly saddened” by Ashley’s passing, calling him “an amazing artist and entertainer who’ll be deeply missed.” A special tribute will air on Logo on October 5, including an all-day marathon of Drag Race second season and special social-media interactions. The network will will also dedicate the October 22 of RuPaul’s All Stars Drag Race to Sahara’s memory.
A private funeral service is being scheduled for next week in Rockville, Maryland, but a public memorial celebration, is being planned for Friday, November 2, at New York’s XL nightclub. More information will be provided soon on Sahara Davenport’s Facebook Fan Page.
Donations to the Ashley family can be sent via PayPal to: saharadavenportmemory@gmail.