Cheddar Gorgeous has been applauded for using her runway look to start discussion about HIV stigma on this week’s episode of Drag Race UK.
The theme of ‘Tickled Pink’ saw the star don a black bodysuit embellished with bright pink triangles, which she explained were inspired by the ACT UP movement – an organisation fighting to end the AIDS epidemic.
Its slogan, ‘Silence = Death’, was branded across the outfit. The Manchester-based queen explained the significance of the clothing to Dakota Schiffer: “During the HIV/AIDS crisis in the ‘80s, the ACT UP movement took those symbols that were used against us and turned that into a symbol of queer resistance.” Pixie Polite criticised the inaction of the government at the height of the epidemic, referring to it as “wilful genocide of queer people”.
She continued: “I know so many people … who are in their 50s, and I’m like: ‘Why don’t you have friends of your own age, why do you hang out with all young people?’ and they’re like, ‘Everyone I know died.’ And if we had been born slightly earlier, we would be dead too.” Cheddar proceeded to reflect on what it was like to grow up in an era when people’s fear of HIV was “intertwined” with homophobia. “I grew up watching adverts on television of gravestones dropping,” she stated. “I live with that legacy.