When Eric Vance discovered his grandmother didn’t have much longer to live, he wanted to share a part of himself that would bring her joy.
So the 28-year-old drag performer from Ottawa, known as Sunshine Glitterchild on stage, brought his show to the facility where she had entered palliative care.
“I’m so grateful to her,” said Vance, who lip-synced the Shirley Bassey version of Stevie Wonder’s classic You Are the Sunshine of My Life before launching into Abba’s Dancing Queen.
Sunshine the song had always been a big hit with Vance’s grandmother, Lyse Fournier, but Vance said the fact that it was also part of his stage name just made it feel right. He quickly learned the lyrics so he could perform it the next day.
Vance’s mother set up a speaker and disco ball in the room while his grandmother slept, and just before she woke up he hid behind a curtain.
They filmed the performance to send to family as far away as Australia, but Fournier’s reaction was so meaningful to Vance that he decided to post the video to social media.
In the post, Vance wrote: “I love you grandma. Thank you for loving and accepting me for who I am, embracing my queerness, and buying me the best clothes and gifts my whole life.”
Withn 24 hours, the TikTok video hit one million views. Thousands more have watched on Instagram.
“[I was] extremely shocked,” Vance said. “I knew it was a special moment, and so special to me and my family…. I guess it really resonated with people.”
Vance said he’s been privileged to have a supportive family who allowed him to embrace drag as performance art.
“A lot of other drag queens said they wished they could share their art with their family members.”
Vance said his grandmother’s medical condition has stabilized a bit. She’s suffering from congenital heart failure, kidney failure and diabetes, and Vance said he just wants the rest of her time to be as comfortable as possible.
“You want poutine? You got it. You can eat whatever you want,” he said.