“Deeply saddened over the passing of trailblazing queer artist Ari Gold,” World of Wonder Productions tweeted Sunday, confirming his death. “Gold released 7 albums & paved the way for many out artists since the early 2000s.” World of Wonder had worked with Gold and RuPaul on their collaborations.
RuPaul, as well as Laverne Cox, Peppermint, and more shared their condolences online as the news of Gold’s death spread. “So many people have come and gone from my life over the past 25 years but you have been a constant,” Cox wrote in a tribute post on her Instagram. “I’m so utterly devastated that you’ve moved on today. But I know you’ll be watching over me as you always have. I’m so grateful to have known you.”
RuPaul added, “Until we meet again, dear friend.”
Gold, who went by multiple stage names — including Sir Ari and GoldNation — throughout his career, was widely considered a queer pioneer in the dance music genre. In 2004, his music video for “Wave of You” became the first music video by an openly LGBTQ artist to premiere on Logo TV. The musician performed alongside stars such as Cyndi Lauper and Diana Ross, collaborated with Boy George on “Underneath This Earth — Jared Jones Culture Club Remix,” and served as an opening act for Chaka Khan.
Over the course of his career, Gold released seven studio albums — Ari Gold (2001), Space Under Sun (2004), The Remixes (2005), Transport Systems (2007), Between the Spirit & the Flesh (2011), Play My F**kn Remix (2013)and Soundtrack to Freedom (2015) — and charted three entries on Billboard‘s Dance Club Songs chart, with his 2007 single “Where the Music Takes You” featuring Sasha Allen peaking at No. 10 on the chart dated Aug. 2, 2008.
In 2018, Gold wrote an essay for NewNowNext, where he revealed that he was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a rare form of blood cancer curable through bone marrow transplants, in 2013. In a 2019 episode of his podcast “A Kiki From the Cancer Ward,” with RuPaul as a guest, he said he had been officially declared cancer-free.
“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,” Gold wrote in his 2018 NewNowNext essay. “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 … If you are a cancer warrior or a warrior of shame, don’t forget to treat yourself better than anyone else could ever treat you, tell your story proudly every day you walk this earth, and use that fucking cancer card, gay card, or any card that you’ve earned as if you have all the credit in the world.”
See some of the tributes to Gold below:
— RuPaul (@RuPaul) February 14, 2021
— Randy Rainbow (@RandyRainbow) 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 (@MartiGCummings) February 14, 2021
All the love ❤️ ❤️💔 RIP my gorgeous friend pic.twitter.com/LV6Tyq3jDL
— Candis Cayne (@candiscayne) February 14, 2021
— Mario Cantone (@macantone) February 15, 2021
So sad to hear the news. Rest In Peace, @AriGold ❤️
— Nina West (@NinaWest) February 15, 2021