A NORTH East drag queen has been exploring their childhood growing up as gay in Darlington’s traveller community for a new documentary.
Cherry Valentine, the drag persona of George Ward, found national fame after appearing on the second UK series of Ru Paul’s Drag Race.
George, who is from Darlington, left the traveller community at the age of 18.
Now living outside of the North East, they returned to Darlington to make the BBC documentary Cherry Valentine: Gypsy Queen and Proud.
The BBC documentary is available now on iPlayer and will be show on BBC 3 next Tuesday at 10.30pm and again on February 3 and 5.
George, who is from the Romany traveller community, and is a trained mental health nurse, said: “I left the Gypsy community when I was 18 and closed that part of my life off.
“Drag Race helped me find confidence to talk but made me realise.
“I’m a queer person and I’m a traveller. I’m proud but I don’t know if I’m proud of both of them together.
“My experience of growing up as a queer person and that community really affected me a lot.”
During the documentary, George speaks about the experience of growing up as gay in the traveller community and goes to see a camp in Darlington where some family live.
George added: “I don’t really have a relationship with the traveller community. I speak to my mam, very rarely my dad and my brother.
“I’ve distanced myself and they have distanced themselves from me.
“I find it hard to connect with me as a kid. I feel like it’s not me.”
The documentary goes on to interview the people behind Traveller Pride, which launched in 2019 and provides a platform and network that provides guidance, support and information to make life easier for LGBT+ Travellers.
George said: “There are so many different stereotypes. People assume if you’re a traveller you’re homophobic and sexist and old fashioned. A lot of people are but not all of us. I’m not.”
Speaking about the documentary on social media, they said: “I really am incredibly proud of this piece of work – and I can’t wait to let you all in a little deeper. This is about a community so close to my heart and my life, it’s about overcoming obstacles, challenging my own authenticity, and I hope everyone can get something positive from this.”
Cherry Valentine: Gypsy Queen and Proud can be streamed on iPlayer now.
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