This story contains spoilers from the first three episodes of RuPaul's Drag Race U.K. series three.
In a series of emotional scenes, Charity Kase, a contestant on RuPaul's Drag Race series three, has revealed that they are living with HIV. The news makes Case, who is a drag daughter of Drag Race season three winner Raja, the first competitor of U.K. and the third queen in the franchise's international history to come out. She follows the likes of Ongina as well as Trinity K. Bonet.
In episode three of the season, Kase said she seroconverted when she was 18 and was going through a "really dark time."
“I moved to London when I was 17 and then when I was 18 I was having a good time and I was on the scene,” she said to Kitty Scott-Claus while in the Werk Room. “But then I ended up contracting HIV and it was kind of really hard for me to process that at 18 and I was still a child, do you know what I mean?"
"From that one night, I contracted HIV and I contracted lots of other STIs," she said later in a confessional. "And that’s really difficult." Kase said that she was taken advantage of, which led to her seroconversion.
On the series she also expressed the reaction she got from those around her like a family member saying "Oh, I told you to be careful," and others giving her negative responses on various apps, calling her "diseased" and "disgusting." The experience has had long-term impacts.
"I don't date now," the 24-year-old told BBC Three. "I've not had a relationship since I was 18." She's explained that stigma has been worse than the diagnosis itself given that she is on a regimen and is undetectable.
"I take three tablets a day, and I live a normal life expectancy and I am undetectable – that means that the virus cannot be passed on from me," she said. "The drag was a massive, massive help for me coping with these emotions that I didn’t know how to deal with.
"I’m really proud of who I am today. I am comfortable with what I do and who I am. And that is why I’m so passionate about my drag and why I put my all into it and why I spend every moment of every day creating something to distract myself from the dark places that I’ve been to and the dark places that I can still go to." She explained that the creation of the persona Charity Kase came from those experiences.
In the wake of the episode's airing, others in the community have applauded the scenes.
“Incredible to see Charity Kase using their platform on RuPaul’s Drag Race U.K. to educate people across the world on HIV and show that a diagnosis doesn’t have to stop you from living life to the fullest," Ian Green, chief executive of sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust, said. “As Charity explains, we’ve made so much progress in the fight against HIV – including that people on effective treatment can’t pass on the virus and can expect to live just as long as anyone else."
For its part RuPaul's Drag Race U.K. and BBC all supported the revelation with providing information and resources on social media.
Kase also took to Instagram to join The HIV Action Plan, calling for an end to new cases in the UK by 2030.