strutting her stuff

After years of hiding, Adore Delano is finally embracing her true self, and feeling better than ever

This profile is part of Queerty’s 2023 Out For Good series, recognizing public figures who’ve had the courage to come out and make a difference in the past year.

Name: Adore Delano, 34 

Bio: Adore Delano is a drag performer and singer-songwriter. She first captured the hearts of millions when she appeared on American Idol at the age of 16 in 2008.  

Two years later, she swapped microphones for wigs and heels when she joined the Season 6 cast of RuPaul’s Drag Race. There, she made it to fourth place before getting eliminated – amassing a following who simply ahem, adored her likability, humor, and attempts to make even Party City look chic.  

She came back for season 2 of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars, eventually leaving the show for personal reasons.  

Coming out: In late July, the Drag Race alum revealed via an Instagram video that she is transgender – an announcement that was instantly celebrated by fellow Drag Racers Jinx Monsoon, Kornbread and Willow Pill, actresses Selma Blair and Maisie Williams, and more. 

“I wanted to let everybody know that I am transitioning, and I kept it really hush-hush the first three months because I wanted to go through the beginning stages of the puberty privately,” Delano said in the video. “I’ve found that it’s been very enlightening and has made me probably the happiest I’ve ever been in my adult life.” 

In the video, Delano shares how getting sober helped her come to terms with her identity.

“I feel beautiful,” she said. “This is a feeling from dysphoria to euphoria.” 

Delano first came out as bisexual at the age of 13, then gay.

In high school, Delano felt she was “in a completely different body that was not my own,” so she lived her life as a girl all through high school. 

Then American Idol came along in 2008 – forcing her to choose between her identity and her career.  

“I suppressed everything. I threw it away. I burned it. I tried to reinvent myself. It’s something that I’m really good at doing as a Scorpio rising, but I reinvented myself into something that was so uncomfortable,” Delano said. “It was almost like a sacrifice in order to get what I wanted career wise.” 

Delano continued to put up her shield when she first appeared on RuPaul’s Drag Race in 2010.

“Looking back at old videos, you can see the glimmer in my eyes and the sadness,” she says of her time on the show. “I would look at videos of myself and just drink the day away because these emotions that I did not want to deal with, were just in the backseat, with no seat belt.” 

Now that she is out, Delano shares in the same video that she is now hopeful and loving life again.  

“I’m still your party girl. I’m just sober now,” she said. 

“I feel like I’m giving my teenage self the permission to be my true self now and it feels so liberating. It feels so good to walk like this down the street and not give a g**damn.” 

Delano ends her video with the ultimate declaration of self-love. 

“I am transgender, my pronouns are moving from, me not wanting to offend anybody to… going by she/her,” she said. “‘They’ still feels a little cute but she/her just feels yummy on this cupcake, even though I don’t like frosting.” 

Since coming out, Delano has been (rightfully) focused on herself and continuing her journey.  

“You have to be selfish in the beginning (of your transition) because you have to break the idea of what you were,” she told Out in an August 2023 interview. “You’re still the same person, but you have to recalibrate. 

“Right now, I’m just focused on getting surgeries in November, and then my mom is coming out to just take care of me,” she told the pub. “[I want] to go into the new year feeling more confident and euphoric.” 

We’re glad Adore is taking the time she needs and can’t wait to see what she serves the world in 2024! 

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