Author: Deborah Nelson
I spoke with Manila Luzon about coping with the loss of her long-term boyfriend, Sahara Davenport. Sahara, who was a contestant in RuPaul’s Drag Race Season Two, tragically passed away on October 1, 2012 at the age of 27.
I knew that it would be a difficult conversation because I lost my own boyfriend just seven months and two days after Sahara passed away. I felt that Manila – being a few months on in the grieving process – might be able to offer some consolation or advice. Not just to me but to any of our readers who have gone through a loss.
On October 1 – the two year anniversary of Sahara’s passing – Manila released the video and single for her tribute to Sahara, “Eternal Queen.” Manila commented on her YouTube page that, “This song is dedicated to Sahara Davenport, my Eternal Queen, and to all our lost loves.” (The day that she released the video also happened to be one day after my own “lost love’s” birthday.)
I’m so glad that Manila was brave enough to make this video. Anyone who has been through a devastating loss knows that, while healing occurs, the longing for that person never fully goes away.
In the song, Manila sings:
[quote]Eternal queen, will reign forever, legendary, stay forever.'[/quote]
But then continues:
[quote]Although this chapter’s closing, my heart must keep on going.'[/quote]
Because that is what you do, as Manila discusses:
Deborah: I was practically alone in my grieving because my family, and most of my friends, refused to talk to me about it. But you had the complete opposite situation. You are famous and Sahara was famous. You were forced to talk about your loss in a very public way.
Manila: It was difficult but it was there to show me that we have a whole bunch of people that we don’t even know that really do care for us. And they care about us at a deeper level than had we just been strangers on the street. That was amazing to me that there was so much love for Sahara.
D: What was it like having to be so open with outsiders at such a sensitive time?
M: It was hard to deal with at first because I just wanted my privacy. I just wanted to go through the emotions myself in private. I was denied that because of who we are. But then I just realized that it’s part of who I am now. People care about what I do in my personal time. They care about what I do, where I am, what I’m eating and what I’m wearing. It’s one of the things that you do have to sacrifice. Because ultimately people really do care and they love us. They love us for being who we are and doing it in a manner that they can relate to us on a deeper and personal level.
D: Was it difficult to have to go on performing and putting on that “happy face” at a time when you must not have felt so happy?
M: I’m a performer. And my audience is usually in a nightclub. So it’s not the place to be sad and depressing. You have to go back to the “Hot Couture” and find ways to relate to the subject while keeping it light and celebrating life and who we are. Remembering our lost ones in a happy way.
D: Do you feel like you have moved forward in your healing?
M: It’s been two years now and I’m just living each day and moving forward with my life. It’s all we can really do. It just makes me cherish every day a lot more.
D: Has performing drag helped you get through it all? I know writing for Dragaholic has helped me so much.
M: I’m having so much fun doing what I am. I love doing drag. I have an amazing audience full of loving fans that I’m really grateful for. Unlike a play I don’t have a script that someone wrote for me to follow. I’m just doing me.
D: Even though you have made this very emotional song and video – and I’m so glad that you did – you sound really well and like you are in a good place.
M: That’s the whole point. You have to find the fun in it. Otherwise it’s just work. And what’s the fun in work?