AJ McLean was the latest in the Backstreet group to tackle a reality competition show, and the first to take it all the way to the top! AJ embodied the beautiful and inspirational #PoppyLove on RuPaul’s Secret Celebrity Drag Race.
The show began with Poppy Love being introduced, but her true identity was hidden. Of course BSB fans knew immediately that this was AJ and were cheering him on right from the start. AJ shone big, winning the first two weeks, and doing very well the next few weeks. He landed in the bottom two as the number of celebs wound down, but fought his way out of the bottom with a fun and engaging lipsync of “Edge of Glory” and then he took it all the way to the end.
I can’t say I have a favorite performance from the show because they were all fun and in the spirit of Drag, pretty out there at times. For example, his duet of “The Boy Is Mine” with Morgan McMichaels was out of this world with them lipsyncing from the maternity ward while giving birth to full blown adults. It was nothing if not memorable. And entertaining!
And it was AJ at his finest.
As a fan of AJ over the years, I’ve always rooted for him to find his way. Early on I was an AJ girl, into the “bad boy” and enjoying that persona. However, as it became clear that he had some true demons, and as I got older and more clear-headed, my view of him shifted a bit. I always loved the man, but I had a hard time watching him as he seemed to fall into that abyss. It was not as easy to see until the ‘Unbreakable’ and ‘This is Us’ times, but it was clear there was a lot he was dealing with internally.
Looking back now, it’s also pretty easy to identify those times from the earlier days, I was just blind to it then.
In the last few years, we’ve been lucky to see AJ grow into his own. He has confronted his demons head on and has not been private about the struggle. He has shared that his daughter triggered this latest recovery effort when she told him he didn’t smell like her daddy after he had a long night out. Thank God for the love of our kids.
Since then, AJ has shared numerous times about the work he is putting in to stay healthy. He has been vocal about eliminating drugs and alcohol from his life completely. He has also put his health as a priority, with a workout and nutrition plan to keep him on track.
And it shows.
It seems like he’s finally found a way to move from AJ to Alex, and to love himself for who he is and what he brings to the world.
As a fan for 25+ years, I can say that I have never seen AJ healthier, happier, and more confident. I cannot express how proud I am of how far he has come. He has worked so hard to get here and he seems to be truly enjoying his sobriety, his career, his family, and all the wonderful things that are coming his way. He is enjoying being Alex.
And Poppy Love seems to embody all of that. What I see when I see Poppy Love is unconditional acceptance, love for oneself, extreme courage to be who you are, a willingness to let it all out and leave it out there, and true happiness in oneself. AJ’s portrayal of Poppy Love allowed him to let loose and be anyone he wanted to be, but he chose to embody himself through this character. And I hope that this character has now given him the courage to continue to be himself, to be Alex, in all aspects of his life.
AJ, I am so proud of the human you’ve become. You continue to inspire and lift others with the work you are doing on yourself, your courage to be open about your struggles, and the way you elevate others, praising and accepting people as they are no matter what. Your positivity shines through you.
Condragulations Poppy Love! And Congratulations AJ, Alex, on being your best self. I hope you have celebrated these victories!
And the fans were celebrating right along with him! Check out these well wishes for AJ and Poppy Love: