Iconic drag performer Diamond Lil has passed away at age 80 from cancer. The announcement was made on her Facebook fan page this morning.
Born Phillip Forrester in 1935 in Savannah, Diamond Lil became a regular performer on the Atlanta drag scene in the 1960s. Unlike other female impersonators, Diamond Lil didn’t just lip-synch to songs, but sang and wrote her own music. Nicknamed the “Queen of the Jukeboxes,” her humorous songs were heard around the southeast and she was an influence on fellow drag performers RuPaul and Lady Bunny. She released a number of albums, including “Silver Grill Blues” (named after the now defunct diner).
Not only did Lil perform at most of Atlanta’s gay bars and cabarets over the last 40-plus years, but she was also a regular performer at Eat’s and Manuel’s Tavern. She was also a noted activist for LGBT rights, once famously singing Tammy Wynette’s “Stand By Your Man” on the campus of the University of Georgia during a 1972 rally.
Diamond Lil’s humor could also be found in her writing, including a series of funny columns that appeared in the pages of INtown. You can read more about Lil’s career at Georgia Voice.
She will be missed.