Drag Legend Chantelle Douglas Dies Unexpectedly
It was with great sadness and shock as I read the email from Phoenix Gay Pride announcing the passing of 36 year old Santana Douglas, better known by her stage name of Chantelle L. Douglas. She died July 16, 2012 at the hospital with family and friends by her side.
Update – July 21, 2012: It has been reported that she had contracted meningitis in viral, bacterial, and fungal form. By the time it was diagnosed, the meningitis had become systemic and spread to her spinal fluid and ultimately her brain. She did not respond to the treatment of the meningitis or any of the attempts to reduce the swelling in her brain.
Evidence suggests that HIV positive people are at a much greater risk at contracting community-acquired bacterial or viral meningitides, especially those with low CD4 counts (T-cells). While we do not know Chantelle’s HIV status, let’s make this an opportunity to go out and get tested in her memory. As of this writing, Maricopa County Public Health is offering free HIV /Syphilis testing throughout the Valley.
Chantelle began performing back in 1995. Six years later she became the first Miss Gay Arizona USofA in 2001. Other titles include Miss Black Texas America and Miss Phoenix Gay Pride. In addition, she was recently crowned Miss Charlie’s 2012. Other work included a spot on the Friday night Elements Show at BS West and with Community Strong’s Pride Youth Pageant at the upcoming October Rainbows Festival.
When off-stage, Chantelle was working on her Masters Degree in Communications at the University of Phoenix. She is survived by her partner and two dogs. I sincerely wish her partner along with the Douglas’ my condolences during this very difficult time.
Long before her gigs at Charlie’s and BS, Chantelle hosted “Chantelle and Friends” at Phoenix’ gay martini bar Amsterdam. I was lucky enough to have been working bar-back during those Thursday night shows. I fondly recall the shows and her incredible performances. If I wasn’t in a gay bar, I would have thought for sure that she were in fact a she.
Chantelle was so serious about performing, I remember the time she decided to have breast implants to enhance her career. What stood out… more than her new breasts was the huge amount of drama it caused with her and her partner at the time, Nikki Knowles who is also in the profession. I guess I too would be upset if my boyfriend got a boob job. Somehow they worked it all out and the show went on.
Some other items I found during my research for this post were her LinkedIn profile and Chantelle’s Facebook page, which I’m hoping the family will convert to a Facebook Memorial page. I was unable to find information on funeral arrangements. I found a lot of videos on YouTube but really liked this one posted by KARENVYA showing Chantelle at BS West in Scottsdale performing a tribute to Whitney Houston by singing “I Will Always Love You“.
Ironically, in the days following her death, just months after performing her tribute to Whitney; Chantelle’s sisters in drag performed tribute shows for Chantelle there on the same stage at BS West.
Please help us remember Chantelle by posting your personal stories here. How was Chantelle special to you?
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