Last week RuPaul's Drag Race star Sahara Davenport unfortunately passed away from heart failure at age 28. Sahara, aka Antoine Ashley, had been in a relationship with fellow Drag Race contestant Manila Luzon for six years.
In an interview with People Magazine, Karl Westerberg (stage name Manila) speaks out about the passing of his boyfriend and discusses how this tragic loss has impacted his life.
"I'm left cherishing his memories and carrying out his legacy," Karl shared. "I was lucky enough to have time with him." The pair met years ago at a bar in their neighborhood and were together ever since.
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"We just really hit it off," Karl recalls. "And when we both found out we were drag queens, it was such an enlightening moment. I was starting a relationship with someone who shared a passion for something I did. It was a lot of fun."
"Antoine and Sahara Davenport were really able to help me learn about drag," Karl reveals. "We really fed off each other. Together, we just clicked. We were both part of RuPaul's Drag Race, so we both got to go through this experience together."
Today, he is still adjusting to that loss. "I'm hanging in there, but it's hard because I have to deal with more than just grieving someone so close," Karl says.
"I have to deal with telling everyone all the information. We've been together for such a long time, so it's surreal because it just happened. At least I have a lot of support from friends and family, so that's good."
Karl says he is relying on mementos Antoine left him to help him cope for the time being. "She left me a whole bunch of shoes," he muses. "She would design these amazing outfits and have them made for her."
On Friday, a special tribute to Sahara will be aired on LOGO. And the first episode of All Stars Drag Race, which Manila, is a part of will be dedicated to Sahara's memory.
"All the stuff that's going to be said will be said as if Sahara was still with us. It's going to be a little hard to watch, but it's kind of cool," Karl says.
"We're all going to die, but [people] really want to pay a tribute to [Antoine] and the huge legacy he's leaving behind. As a drag performer, he rose to the top. He was on television and people fell in love with him. He was an amazing dancer and performer, and he was able to showcase that to the world," Karl explains of Antoine's contribution to the drag community.
"A lot of people care about him and will remember him for all of that. This is a celebration of his life."
Antoine's family will host a private funeral on Oct 13th in Rockville, MD. On November 2nd, XL Nightclub in NYC will host a public memorial with tribute performances dedicated to Sahara's work.
Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to Sahara's family and friends at this time.
RuPaul's All Stars Drag Race airs Oct 22 at 9/8c on LOGO.
[Photo Credit: Joseph Marzullo/Wenn.com]
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