Alexis Arquette, a transgender activist and actress best known for playing a Boy George–inspired character in The Wedding Singer, died on Sunday, September 11, her brother Richmond Arquette confirmed. She was 47.
“Our brother Robert, who became our brother Alexis, who became our sister Alexis, who became our brother Alexis, passed this morning September 11, at 12:32 am,” Richmond, 53, wrote in a Facebook post on Sunday morning. “He was surrounded by all of his brothers and sisters, one of his nieces and several other loved ones. We were playing music for him and he passed during David Bowie’s Starman. As per his wishes, we cheered at the moment that he transitioned to another dimension.”
Alexis, who was born Robert Arquette, was the sibling of actors Richmond, Rosanna, Patricia and David Arquette. Her transition from male to female was documented in the 2007 film Alexis Arquette: She’s My Brother. Alexis’ cause of death has not been confirmed.
“I am feeling immense gratitude to have been afforded the luxury of sharing life with him/her, for learning from Alexis, for being given the gift of being able to love her/him and to be loved by him/her,” Richmond continued. “He was a force. He died as he lived, on his own terms. I am immensely grateful that it was fast and painless. It was an incredible moving experience and I am humbled and grateful to have been able to have been with him as he began his journey onward. Thank you, Alexis, I love you and will always love you.”
Patricia, 48, also paid tribute to her late sibling with two tweets of Alexis’ favorite songs: David Bowie’s “Starman” and T. Rex’s “Cosmic Dancer.”
“Breaking through the veil singing StarMan,” the Academy Award winner tweeted, adding, “To My first best friend – Cosmic Dancer.”
Alexis also appeared in Blended, The Surreal Life and Down and Out in Beverly Hills.
Boy George, who inspired Alexis’ character in the 1998 Adam Sandler–Drew Barrymore comedy The Wedding Singer, posted a tribute to the actress on Twitter, writing, “R.I.P my sister Alexis Arquette. Another bright light gone out far too soon. Love to the family and all that loved Alexis.”
The Arquette siblings later released a statement about Alexis that Richmond posted on Facebook.
“Alexis was a brilliant artist and painter, a singer, an entertainer and an actor. She starred in movies like Last Exit to Brooklyn, Pulp Fiction, Jumpin’ at the Boneyard, Of Mice and Men, The Wedding Singer, and The Bride of Chucky. Her career was cut short, not by her passing, but by her decision to live her truth and her life as a transgender woman. Despite the fact that there are few parts for trans actors, she refused to play roles that were demeaning or stereotypical. She was a vanguard in the fight for understanding and acceptance for all trans people,” they wrote.
“She fiercely lived her reality in a world where it is dangerous to be a trans person — a world largely unready to accept differences among human beings, and where there is still the ugliness of violence and hostility towards people that we may not understand.
“Alexis was born as Robert, our brother. We loved him the moment he arrived. But he came in as more than a sibling — he came as our great teacher. As Alexis transitioned into being a woman, she taught us tolerance and acceptance. As she moved through her process, she became our sister, teaching us what real love is.
“We learned what real bravery is through watching her journey of living as a trans woman. We came to discover the one truth — that love is everything.
“In the days leading to her death, she told us she was already visiting the other side, and that where she was going, there was only one gender. That on the other side, we are free from all of the things that separate us in this life, and that we are all one. She passed away surrounded by love. We held her and sang her David Bowie’s ‘Starman’ as she punched through the veil to the other side. We washed her body in rose petals and surrounded her with flowers,” Rosanna, Richmond, Patricia and David continued.
“Alexis always had to do everything first. She left before we were ready to let her go. We are all heartbroken that she is no longer with us, but we are grateful for the grace and kindness we were all shown during this difficult time. We are comforted by the fact that Alexis came into our family and was our brother and then our sister, and that she gave us so much love. We will love you always, Alexis. We know we were the lucky ones.
“The family asks that in lieu of flowers or gifts, donations please be sent to organizations that support the LGBTQ community in honor of Alexis Arquette. Please respect our privacy during this time of grieving.”
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