Groundbreaking queer singer and dance artist Ari Gold has died following a highly public battle with leukemia. He was 47.
The out singer made waves with his 2001 debut album but was most known for his 2007 track “Where the Music Takes You,” which landed on Billboard’s Top 10 Hot Dance/Electronic Songs chart. According to Boy Culture, the video for his 2004 song “Wave For You” was the first music video by an openly LGBTQ artist to premiere on Logo.
Throughout his career, Gold performed under stage names like Sir Ari and GoldNation in addition to Ari Gold. He also worked with music industry legends like Cyndi Lauper, Diana Ross, and Boy George.
In 2013, Gold was diagnosed with myelodsplastic syndrom (MDS), a blood cancer curable with a bone marrow transplant. Following a transplant, he was declared cancer-free in 2019. Driven by a need to make art even during the darkest days of his treatment and recovery, Gold started shining a light on his hospital stays by recording his conversations with visiting friends and chosen family. These conversations were part of a seven-episode podcast series called A Kiki From the Cancer Ward. Guests included everyone from Laverne Cox and Kevin Aviance to Peppermint.
Last February, RuPaul spoke with Gold for an episode of A Kiki From the Cancer Ward on the same day that the artist found out he was cancer-free from his transplant. Gold appeared in Ru’s 2007 movie Starrbooty and called the drag superstar “the closest thing I’ve known to a mentor.”
“I’ll save you from the platitudes about how precious life is, but I really do try to live each day as if it’s my last,” the singer wrote in a personal essay for NewNowNext in 2018. “I was an out and proud gay pop music artist at a time when many feared that being open about their sexuality would ruin their careers. I made every attempt I could to wave the gay flag, from using male pronouns to men-on-men love scenes in my videos. I told stories from a pointedly gay perspective.”
Following the news of Gold’s death, there was an outpouring of love and condolences from those who were touched by his joyous soul and music — including Ru, who tweeted, “Until we meet again, dear friend.”
Deeply saddened over the passing of trailblazing queer artist Ari Gold. Gold released 7 albums & paved the way for many out artists since the early 2000s, with his music video “Wave of You” being the 1st video by an out LGBTQ+ artist to premiere on @logotv. Rest in power, Ari. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/tuXbzhIAId
— World of Wonder (@WorldOfWonder) February 14, 2021
Sad to hear that pioneering trailblazing queer artist Ari Gold has passed away. He was so incredibly kind, encouraging, and full of joy.
— Marti 2021 (@MartiGCummings) February 14, 2021
A thread: I’m rattled and deeply sad to hear about Ari Gold’s passing today. I didn’t know Ari well, but he always struck me as extremely kind. pic.twitter.com/akTfD2CccH
— Dan Fishback (@dangerfishback) February 14, 2021
I remember gushing when I first met Ari. I’d only made a couple of short films but I told him I HAD to use his music in a film one day. He said yes with an enthusiasm that made me feel like a studio exec. When the day came, he let me use this perfect songhttps://t.co/fEIEzPtHfy
— Q. Allan Brocka (@allanbrocka) February 14, 2021
— Mario Cantone (@macantone) February 15, 2021
— RuPaul (@RuPaul) February 14, 2021
Thank you for the music, Gold. Rest in peace.