"DRAG HELPED ME ESCAPE" - Jordy Deelight on creating Dear Deelight


1 Jun 2021

News Story

Credit: Rosalind Main

In 2012 my guidance counsellor told me when I was writing my statement for UCAS “the whole world doesn’t need to know your life story” – 9 years later, it’s what I’m paid professionally to do…

My name is Jordy Deelight, I am a drag artist based in Edinburgh that works across the UK, and I have been trying my best to live my life as the real housewife of Leith, whilst dishing out dating advice like Cilla Black. My drag career wasn’t exactly planned in all honesty, in 2013 I was studying an undergraduate degree in Drama and Performance at Queen Margaret university, and at night I was dressing up in dresses and DJing in the clubs. Up until this point, all I’d known about drag was pantomime dames. I loved panto as a child which was why I chose to study Drama at Uni to begin with.

In those 3 years studying, I won’t lie to you, I spent several years trying to work out what I wanted to do. Whenever I was stressed from studying or having moments of poor health due to my Cystic Fibrosis, drag helped me escape. I met several others who wanted to be drag artists, who encouraged me to pursue drag for fun. Still one of the best songs I did in a club to this date was ‘How Do I Live’ by Leann Rimes holding an oxygen mask. I then knew I was on to something…

When my health started to drastically dip from having Cystic Fibrosis, I started incorporating it into my drag performances all the time. In 2017 I worked with birds of paradise theatre, performing at their intergenerational cabaret doing a Cinderella tribute about my CF treatments and medication. This gave me the chance to do autobiographical pieces with a twist, which then became my first solo drag show “Wasted Youth” at the Netherbow theatre in Edinburgh in 2019. The show also discussed sexual assault in the queer community, which I spoke about openly on the BBC Nine. Whilst creating this show, I was lucky enough to be approached by Solus productions in Glasgow to film a BBC documentary, “Jordy’s 65 Reasons to Live”, that followed my journey as a drag queen with Cystic Fibrosis, and drag’s ability to allow me to escape.

As work blossomed, my lungs declined further, and my dating life became almost like a tragic episode of Jeremy Kyle. I went through a nasty break up around the same time I was told I needed lung transplant, and I then applied for Scottish Youth Theatre’s Making Space programme in 2019 the day after that break-up. After development and receiving funding from Young Scot’s nurture talent fund, I wrote a show called “The Honeymoon Period” that discussed lung transplants in CF. I worked with fellow artists Fawna Love and Sarah Forrester to tell the story of Hayley, a girl based on myself and my friend Katie Jefferson (who sadly lost her life in September 2020). This was in January 2020, the month I was told about this new medication in CF called Kaftrio. A glimmer of hope.

Credit: Jennie Walker

Whilst finishing my MA at Edinburgh College of Art (virtually), I spent the beginning of the pandemic on this medication and kept away from everyone in the shielding category. The pandemic has been a difficult and ongoing battle for many, I myself struggled when I was shielding for the first 12 weeks, and couldn’t leave the house nor see anyone until it was safe…

During this time, I did a YouTube series for fun, which I quickly dropped when my mental health took a bad turn and I felt suicidal. The only thing that kept me going was HOPE and that my physical health was still stronger than ever on Kaftrio. In summer 2020 I was very fortunate to make connection with NTS through my wonderful mentor and friend, Fiona Ferguson, and begin developing work for them. A month after this, in August, “The Honeymoon Period” won the Young Scot Arts AWARD 2020, and the first minister Nicola Sturgeon sent me a letter congratulating me calling me an ‘icon’ (okay- pause…let’s just take that in)…

With a fire under me from the first minister calling me an ‘icon’, I took that failed YouTube series and started drafting scripts about an agony aunt in drag. I wanted to finally explore work that was not related to my CF, which NTS have been incredible with mentoring and supporting. Working with NTS has been an incredible moment of gratitude to come out of this pandemic for me, and I hope ‘Dear Deelight’ can help others to deal with their own inner demons; or if not that, at least give them a good giggle at probably the worst dating advice since Blind Date.

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