It’s barely been 24 hours since Adore Delano posted an Instagram video coming out as trans that we catch up on Zoom. I go into the interview with a sensitive and respectful mindset, aware that she may be in a fragile place. Just moments in, it’s blatant that Adore is just as outrageously candid as she usually is – tender topics be damned.
“Dude, that’s not me at all!” she says, when I explain my delicate approach to her later in our conversation. “I’d been thinking a while about how I was going to announce [my transition] because I was going to take a few months off after my surgery and wait till then. But I thought, how disingenuous would that be to show up with a new face and be like, ‘Hey, guys! What the fuck’s up?”
In the nine-minute video shared on her Instagram profile in late July, the Drag Race season 6 favourite told her story. “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, addressing what she said was “a lot of talk about my body and questions about my gender” online in recent months. She tells me that she’s been on a course of oestrogen for around three months and plans to have facial feminisation surgery (FFS) in November.
“I just wanted to explain it in a way where people wouldn’t be confused”
“My supporters are part of my spirit, and they’ve been instrumental in my growing process. I just wanted to explain it in a way where people wouldn’t be confused [about my gender] or ask me about it at a meet and greet and make me feel uncomfortable,” she tells me.
Though likely not meant with malice, examples of unwarranted familiarity come up throughout our chat, with Adore telling me how fans have commented on her gender to her face even when she’s out shopping. “Recently, I was picking up my medications and all these people were coming up to me asking for photos and a few were like, ‘Girl, we know, we know.’ I was like, ‘My God, I’m literally buying toilet paper and picking up my fucking meds, bro!’ At least now they can stop.”
“When I allowed myself to finally feel these feelings, I couldn’t suppress her anymore”
A step into sobriety prompted serious reflection for the star on her gender around two years ago. “There was this weird energetic pull and I was constantly in my head and questioning, ‘Why do I feel like this, like my teenage self?’ Before, I was drinking like every day, so when I allowed myself to finally feel these feelings, I couldn’t suppress her anymore,” she explains.
After being sober for around nine months, she began drinking again, though went back into sobriety shortly after.
“When I got sober the second time on my world tour, it was apparent that it wasn’t going away, so I just hid in my hotel room from my band and everyone else, dealing with my emotions. I was like, ‘We gotta get some fucking therapy, girl; let’s start talking about this.’”
“My mom Bonnie has been very instrumental”
Alongside professional therapy, which she’s been in for “a few months now,” Adore says that her support network has played a huge part in allowing her to realise her true self. “My mom Bonnie has been very instrumental in all of this, holding my hand through it all. I don’t know how I’d do this without my family. My brothers always called me their little sister growing up and were protective over me.”
A huge amount of love has inevitably been sent Adore’s way from her Drag Race family, with “every Ru Girl in the damn book” sending texts of support following the Instagram video. Of that family, however, there’s one member who’s been a particular pillar of comfort. “I call Michelle Visage ‘Tía’; she’s like my aunt. We’ve been talking the past few days and she’s just been so beautiful about everything, saying that she’s there for me. She has a special place in my heart.”
“I want to focus on becoming the best version of myself”
On whether she’ll use her platform to become an advocate for trans rights, Adore answers: “I want to focus on becoming the best version of myself first so I can take that forefront when it’s time, because right now I’m not going to start spewing shit and pretend I know everything when I’m only three months in.”
It’s been almost 10 years since Adore appeared on her Drag Race season. I ask if she thinks the show has changed in that time. “I think we were the last season to be the grit, before the polish of season 7. We all got our wardrobes from fucking eBay, bro! Now it’s like you have to spend 10 grand on an outfit with beads that weigh 60 pounds and then lip sync in that mother fucker!”
And with the inevitable question of whether she’s been asked to return for a second turn at All Stars, there’s an extremely pregnant pause, followed by her signature boisterous laugh. “Let’s just say this: The producers have told me when I’m ready, the door’s always open for me.” We’ll take that.
Adore’s interview appears in issue 354 of Attitude magazine, out now. Click here to buy or subscribe to Attitude magazine.