To celebrate Stonewall 50 and WorldPride in NYC, we gathered a group of remarkable people with their own Stonewall stories to tell. Read them all in our blog, and say hello when you see them at Stonewall.
When Honey Davenport enters a room, the energy changes. Her elegant walk and immediate charm make it clear why she’s earned the respect of the drag world and cemented herself as one of the hardest workers and most visible voices in the scene. She was a force to be reckoned with on season 11 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, is releasing new original music, and relentlessly traveling to perform and, as she puts it, “create happiness through the art of drag.”
Born James Heath-Clark, which she calls “a crazy name,” Honey first caught the eye of a drag queen named Peppermint at Therapy Night Club in Hell’s Kitchen, New York City. Peppermint approached Honey and her brother and asked them to dance backup for her at a show at Lincoln Center. “I was like, hello! Yes, I want to dance at Lincoln Center,” Honey says. “We agreed to dance backup for this one-off gig, but that turned into me being Peppermint’s backup dancer for four years, all over the world.” Just before a trip to London, Honey decided to put on her first ever starring show. Peppermint and fellow queens Deja Davenport and Sahara Davenport helped organize the show, and she became Honey Davenport. Her career was officially beginning.
Developing a drag show and perfecting routines takes an incredible amount of effort and drive. Honey looked up to Peppermint immediately: “It’s a whirlwind of a career. I saw Peppermint working so hard and thought, ‘I could never be a drag queen, I could never work that hard.’ And now I’m one of the hardest working ones– it’s quite a ride.”
Part of the ride was the first time Honey came to The Stonewall Inn. “As a little gay kid in New York, like, pre-Grindr, we’d spend a lot of time on this block,” she remembers. “I remember finally being old enough to come to the Stonewall, and that night I saw Candice Cain perform.” That became the bar she held herself to when she started to work on landing on her first Stonewall Invasion, and campaigning for Miss Stonewall. “It was like, you saw Candice Cayne. You have to be that good, sis!” It took more than four years of refining her act and shaping her drag identity before Honey took the title: “It was the first pageant that I ever did, and now pageantry is such a big part of who I am. Since Stonewall is a representation of every parts of this community, I knew I could bring in any type of drag I had and have a shot at winning.”
HOPEFULLY, WHAT’S NEXT IS A WORLD THAT GETS EACH OTHER IN A DEEPER WAY THAN PEOPLE DO TODAY.
Now that Honey has reached the world stage, there’s more to her drag than just performing. “Drag feels like a responsibility. The way I’ve used this platform has given platforms for people to speak for those who are voiceless and created opportunities for people that wouldn’t otherwise have them. With the way I’ve represented my community, which needs such representation, it doesn’t feel like a career or a job. It feels like an obligation and a purpose that I have in life. It’s a medium in which my art can have an impact in the entire world.”
Honey weaves her platform into all her shows, often introducing popular numbers by highlighting the need to focus on issues facing women and people of color in the community. She sees the impact in her audience, including one person at a recent Oakland show. “I saw a beautiful woman of color who was like yes, who felt appreciated, in a space that’s supposed to be our safe zone where everyone is supposed to be respected and appreciated. That keeps me going.”
Even with all of her achievements, Honey’s not slowing down. “I’m releasing all sorts of cool, crazy content– things to inspire the world to treat each other how they want to be treated. Things that inspire the world to celebrate people who are a little different instead of knocking people. And things to encourage people to speak up for those who don’t always have the chance to speak up for themselves.” Her goal, while huge, is simple enough to join in:
“Hopefully, what’s next is a world that gets each other in a deeper way than people do today.”