Drag Race UK queen Charity Kase praised for opening up about living with HIV
Author: Patrick Kelleher
Charity Kase. (BBC)
Drag Race UK star Charity Kase has won praise from fans after she revealed that she is living with HIV in an emotional conversation with Kitty Scott-Claus.
On Thursday’s episode (7 October) of the hit drag contest, Charity Kase told Kitty that she was diagnosed with HIV when she was 18 years old after a man took advantage of her.
Charity said she started doing drag as a form of “therapy” after she went through “a really dark time”.
“I moved to London when I was 17. When I was 18, I was having a good time and I was on the scene. Then I ended up contracting HIV,” she told Kitty.
“It was really hard for me to process that at 18. I was still a child, you know what I mean?” she continued.
Charity Kase said she contracted “lots of other STIs” on the same night she contracted HIV.
“That’s really difficult because six years on, I’m still living with the after effects of one night where this guy took advantage of me,” she said.
Drag Race UK star Charity Kase told she’s ‘disgusting’ on dating apps over HIV status
Charity told Kitty about the shocking discrimination she has faced on dating apps over her HIV status.
“On social dating apps, people message saying: ‘You’re diseased, you’re disgusting, stay away from me.’ Just horrible, nasty comments that are really degrading and mean.”
She explained: “The trauma of getting diagnosed positive really comes from the stigma of HIV and it’s really sad that that’s still such a thing.
“When I was 18 and I was diagnosed, I didn’t even really know what HIV was. And the stigma that I felt is, ‘You have a disease and it’s dirty, and you should be ashamed.’”
Charity became emotional when she told Kitty that she has avoided putting herself out there on the dating scene ever since.
“I would love a relationship, I would love to feel close with somebody, but I just don’t feel capable of putting myself in that place where I’m so vulnerable that like, someone can tear me down over something.”
She added: “It’s not even to do with HIV, it’s to do with feeling lonely, you know what I mean?”
Charity Kase won praise from HIV charities and from fans for opening up about her experience in a candid, heartfelt way.
“It’s incredible to see Charity Kase using their platform on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK 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,” said Ian Green, CEO of the Terrence Higgins Trust.
“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.
“However, public awareness about HIV hasn’t caught up with the medical advancements. Stigma and misconceptions about the virus continue to halt progress and lead people to feel shame, fear and anguish about their diagnosis.
“They’re a big part of why people living with HIV are far more likely to experience mental health problems than the general population.”
Green added: “People like Charity are fundamental in changing negative attitudes towards HIV and tackling stigma. We’re thrilled that they are talking openly about the realities of living with HIV today and showing that there is absolutely no place for discrimination in 2021.”
Deborah Gold, chief executive of the National AIDS Trust, heaped praise on Charity Kase for her “decision to be open about HIV”.
“Better awareness around the reality of HIV today is vital to tackling stigma surrounding HIV and the information Charity has shared on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK tonight will educate so many,” Gold said.
She also said Charity has joined the National AIDS Trust and other charities in their call for the government to fully fund an end to HIV transmission by 2030.
“While we strive to end new HIV transmissions it’s important for the world to see that people are living long and happy lives with HIV, and those on effective treatment cannot pass on the virus,” Gold said.
“Although no one is obliged to be open about their status, and it isn’t always an easy decision, the same stigma that makes it hard to say you have HIV, is a stigma that is gradually eroded by people being open and proud. Thank you Charity Kase.”
The drag queen has also won praise from Drag Race UK fans, with many taking to social media to reflect on the significance of the episode.
Charity Kase talking about contracting HIV & being undetectable is a much needed conversation in media.
— Joanna 💙 (@JoPineappple) October 7, 2021
Charity Kase’s story has really broken me. The stigma around HIV+ is horrendous. My heart breaks for them, and everyone in that position. 💔
— Adam Levick ✨🏳️🌈 (@_MrLevick) October 7, 2021
Charity Kase’s discussion about HIV on Drag Race tonight was so lovely – education about the stigma around HIV and the fact that U=U is the most important thing
— george (@georgegriffiths) October 7, 2021
Oh wow. Charity Kase disclosing their HIV status. We as a community need to do better to support those in *and out* of out community from vile abuse and isolation.
Let’s erase phrases like ‘you clean?’ when asking about someone’s status on apps.
Look into Prep. U=U. #DragRaceUK
— Hamza Jahanzeb (@hamzajahanzeb) October 7, 2021
Amazing to hear Charity Kase (is she on twitter?) talking about her HIV, busting a load of myths and educating people! What a legend! #DragRaceUK
— Dr Suzi Gage (@soozaphone) October 7, 2021
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Author: Patrick Kelleher