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'Drag Race' star Adore Delano comes out as transgender

Delano, 33, said she initially came out as trans when she was a teenager but went back in the closet when she competed on "American Idol" in 2008.
Adore Delano attends 'RuPaul's DragCon' on May 14, 2022 in Los Angeles.
Adore Delano at RuPaul's DragCon in Los Angeles in May 2022.Santiago Felipe / FilmMagic

"RuPaul's Drag Race" star and former "American Idol" contestant Adore Delano came as transgender on Wednesday.

In an emotional video shared with her 2 million Instagram followers, Delano said she wanted to end the recent speculation around her gender identity.

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

Delano, 33, said she initially came out as trans to her mom when she was a teenager and presented as a girl throughout high school. Despite the support from her family, Delano said, things changed when she auditioned for the seventh season of "American Idol" in 2008, when she was 16.

"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, referring to her astrology sign. "It was almost like a sacrifice in order to get what I wanted career wise."

Presenting as a boy, Delano made it to the singing competition show's semifinals before being voted off the show. Her viral jabs with the series' then-judges, particularly British television personality Simon Cowell, brought her instant fame and helped launch her music career.

Delano said she began presenting as a girl again when she left "American Idol" but quickly shelved her gender identity again when she entered the sixth season of "RuPaul's Drag Race" in 2010.

"I love the transformation and the binary in-between the character and Danny, if that makes any sense," she said, referring to her birth name. "I tried to live, I really tried to live it, but it just did not code well with my spirit, if that makes any sense."

Fresh off her time as a contestant on "American Idol," Delano was an instant fan-favorite on "Drag Race," finishing as one of the season's runner-ups and drawing a massive following.

Since competing on "Drag Race," Delano has released several studio albums, toured the world and competed on "RuPaul's Drag Race: All Stars," all while suppressing her gender identity.

The drag performer said that she began facing her truth when she became sober two years ago.

"I thought that I would just work with what God gave me and be OK with that for a decade, but it was just not enough for my mental stability," Delano said. "And the feelings of just being an absolute other gender, that I did not physically see in the mirror, becomes more prominent when you’re sober."

"I feel like the chemical imbalance or whatever it was in my head is now leveled," she added. "This is a feeling from dysphoria to euphoria."

Online reaction from the world of drag contained nothing short of unwavering support.

"Texting you princesa!!!!" "Drag Race" judge Michelle Visage commented on Instagram. "I’m so happy for you could BURST."

Fellow "Drag Race" season 6 alum Courtney Act also commented on Delano's video, showing her support.

"I accompany you on any journey," Act wrote. "I love you forever. My ride or die!"

Delano said she is currently in therapy and will be undergoing transition-related surgeries in coming months to further affirm her gender identity.

“I love life again,” Delano said. “I feel like almost like a kid going through puberty because I already have like a childlike brain, but at the same time I’m hopeful.”

Through tears, she thanked her fans for giving her the "luxury" of going through the first few months of her transition privately and told them she would be more open about the rest of her journey.

"I'm still your party girl, but I'm living in my world now," Delano added.