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Daya Betty: diagnosis, RuPaul's Drag Race and speaking out about life with type 1 diabetes

Daya Betty, from Springfield, Missouri, is the first RuPaul's Drag Race contestant to discuss living with type 1 diabetes on the show. We sat down with Daya to talk about her diabetes diagnosis, Pride and why she feels it is so important to be vocal about her diabetes.

Daya took part in the 14th season of RuPaul's Drag Race in the US. 

Find out more about Daya and her career below.

 

We loved watching you in Drag Race last year. How did it feel to be the first contestant (as far as we know) to take part with type 1 diabetes?

Knowing that I was one of the first publicised RuPaul’s Drag Race contestants to be so open about my type 1 diabetes diagnosis was such a powerful feeling. I knew that I wanted to discuss it and be vocal about it if need be, but more importantly, wanted to show how you can lead a normal life and accomplish your dreams while managing this immune disorder. 

 

Can you tell us a little about your diabetes experience – when were you diagnosed? Did it come as a shock?

I was diagnosed at age 15 with type 1 diabetes. I thought the irritability and dramatic mood shifts were all part of puberty, which I was also experiencing at the time as well. There was one morning I showered for school and felt myself becoming light-headed. I yelled for my mom and she physically had to assist me out of the shower. The next thing I knew, I was being rushed to the hospital with a blood sugar of over 700mg/dl (39mmol/ml). It definitely came as a shock.

 

We know that those in both the LGBTQ+ community and the diabetes community can sometimes face stigma from others. Do you have any words of advice for others in the LGBTQ+ community who are living with diabetes?

The best advice I can give to anyone in the LGBTQ+ community who is living with type 1 diabetes is always to be mindful of your health. I know celebrating Pride season comes with lots of partying and long nights out, but it is so important to pay attention to your body. Your blood glucose monitor is this Pride season's hottest accessory! 

 

How will you be celebrating Pride Month this year?

I'm celebrating Pride this year by performing at events worldwide! The past few Pride seasons we have had to be extra cautious because of COVID. But now that I'm fully vaccinated and boosted, I am able to travel and finally get to share the excitement of Pride in person with everyone. 

 

How have you found trying to manage your diabetes during your career in both drag and now on TV? Have there been any challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?

I feel like, after a certain amount of time managing your type 1 diabetes, it just becomes second nature. Luckily, when I am having lows or extreme highs, I can recognise symptoms and make the changes necessary.

However, I always test my sugar before getting into drag, that way if adjustments need to be made I can do it before I'm fully corseted and padded. 

And, since I'm a lady, and carry an evening bag everywhere I go, I make sure always to keep some fruit snacks in my bag in case of a low reading...or if I just get hungry; that's usually more the case.

More about Daya

For more about Daya, and what she's been up to since her time on the runway on RuPaul's Drag Race, please check out Daya's Instagram. (@dayabetty).

The views and opinions expressed in the ‘views’ section of this website belong solely to the author of each article. These views and opinions do not represent those of Diabetes UK as a charity or any of its staff members.

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