Inside the first few seconds of the third season of HBO’s We’re Right here, the hazard is palpable. The opening episode is about in Granbury, Texas, a small, conservative city in Hood County the place 83 % of voters opted to re-elect Republican Greg Abbott as Texas Governor within the 2022 midterms. It’s simple to surprise if drag queens have ever touched the soil.
Enter Bob the Drag Queen, Eureka O’Hara, and Shangela. Each season, the three drag queen superstars go to allies or queer neighborhood members in smaller, usually deep-red cities throughout the nation. They then assist the people—or because the queens name them, their drag youngsters—placed on a glitzy drag present. The one-night-only efficiency goals to offer a secure house for the drag youngsters to specific their real selves, discover help in these round them, and breathe visibility to the often-sidelined LGBTQ+ voices. This season, along with Granbury, the present heads to St. George, Utah; Brevard Nation, Florida; Jackson, Mississippi; and Sussex, New Jersey.
Whereas there was some opposition to the drag queens in previous seasons, it seldom felt harmful. However on this season, which premieres this Friday, Nov. 25, that modifications. “I haven’t seen this a lot outrage regionally, possibly ever,” says Adrienne Quinn Martin, one of many drag youngsters and the Democratic Chair of Hood County, within the first episode.
Because the queens are confronted with protestors, agitators, and vocal opposition, it’s arduous not to consider present occasions. The Parental Rights in Training invoice in Florida, which bans conversations round sexual orientation or gender identification till grade three involves thoughts (this season has two episodes in Florida and addresses the invoice head on). This past weekend, a gunman killed 5 folks and injured dozens extra at Membership Q, a homosexual bar, in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Even within the first episode of We’re Right here season 3, a easy drag queen story hour hosted by Shangela is pressured to maneuver places attributable to a violent risk. This time, the present is extremely political, just because it needs to be.
“Illustration actually does matter, and our present is a shining instance of why it is so vital to not solely have the existence of LGBTQ plus folks, but additionally a neighborhood,” Shangela tells ELLE.com. “That actually is among the most particular components about our present.”
Under, the present’s three stars sit down with ELLE to debate the brand new season, the challenges they confronted, and what the phrase We’re Right here actually means.
Let’s begin on the finish of every episode, when the city comes collectively for an extravagant drag present. What’s it like whenever you get to the ultimate performances?
Bob the Drag Queen: Every episode feels such as you’re holding your breath the entire time. It’s an entire episode of gulp, after which, on the finish, you lastly get to go woo, onto the following city. It at all times seems like an exhale. I’m very proud. I’m at all times so pleased with what we’ve completed. Each time.
Shangela: Yeah, he stated it.
Eureka O’Hara: You already know, we’ve got pleasure. We put loads of work, and lots of people put loads of work, into it. So after we get an opportunity to finalize the present, we’re all exhausted by that time and able to hit our personal beds for not less than a day earlier than we transfer on to the following factor and have to start out planning for the following episode. Though we solely shot six episodes, it nonetheless took us six months to shoot, as a result of we spend anyplace from 12 to 14 days in a city after we movie an episode. We additionally spend a few weeks pre-planning. There’s loads of work we put in earlier than we even get there.
I didn’t understand you spent a lot time in every of these cities. This season, is there a city that felt essentially the most difficult?
Shangela: Granbury, Texas was undoubtedly a spot that was not like every other that we’ve been to within the historical past of doing our present. I’m a Texan. I’ve nice pleasure in Texas, as a result of I do know some great folks in Texas. I got here out in Texas. I got here into who I used to be as a proud, younger homosexual man in Texas. I do know nice drag queens, folks, and activists who reside in Texas. Being in Granbury, it simply appeared like there have been so many loud voices that have been very damaging. There have been lots of people who oppressed something that was completely different from them, to the purpose of actually vehemently arguing for us to not be part of their city, to not be part of their Fourth of July parade, and–
Bob: –to not be.
Shangela: To not be interval. Proper. They didn’t need us there. They made it very identified on-line and thru podcasts and every thing. I don’t suppose we’ve got run into that emboldened opposition to us [before].
Bob: In Texas, I at all times simply reminded myself Texas isn’t all dangerous. Beyoncé’s from right here.
Eureka: I feel I had some bother with New Jersey randomly. There have been just a few moments the place I obtained actually uncomfortable in drag, the place I felt laughed at. Usually, I’m okay in the case of that, however there have been some moments. We have been at a diner the place folks have been actually simply avoiding us just like the plague. We have been at a automotive present the place we at all times have the straight guys come and go ha ha ha. It simply felt somewhat further that day. Noticing the folks laughing and gawking at versus laughing with. You already know, typically I bear in mind there’s instances the place I’m not at all times at my strongest. That’s the fact of being completely different on the earth we reside in. That’s why we’re doing this present, as a result of the people who we work with, they really feel like that on a regular basis.
I feel you hit on one thing: Doing this present takes unimaginable confidence. How do you discover braveness and the way do you simply strategy these people who find themselves in opposition to you?
Bob: I’m very confrontational. That’s actually it.
Eureka: Bob’s good at arguing however can be prepared to face the dialog. I feel what I’ve realized, even from Bob particularly, is loads of instances folks don’t really need to have the dialog, they simply need to be heard. While you begin having a dialog with them, they simply type of discuss in circles. They don’t have any actual legitimate level. I feel you even see their wheels begin to spin in confusion. ‘Effectively, I’ve by no means really been challenged on why I feel this manner, or behave this manner, or react this manner.’ They strictly go to those worry ways. It’s a message from God, or we’re making an attempt to guard the kids. They go to those secure locations versus actual information. That’s what I obtained from it.
I used to be scared for all you at completely different instances in Granbury. Do you know you have been going to be dealing with that within the present? What sort of safety did you may have?
Shangela: I truthfully by no means felt unsafe. Now, that doesn’t say that it was not an unsafe atmosphere. We’ve folks happening saying they need to drag us by means of sagebrush. There have been folks saying they might come out with their weapons and rifles and all this. Being from Texas and being accustomed to this type of scene, atmosphere, and rhetoric, I didn’t really feel unsafe. Possibly it was naivety. Now, the present knew extra, in order that they took particular precaution to verify we have been secure. They employed extra safety for us and our drag youngsters. After we have been going to sure locations they might take a look at the local weather of the place earlier than we went in.
Eureka: We’re additionally used to it. In a bizarre manner, we create these blinders to keep away from that negativity and that confrontation. We’ve needed to stroll by means of these conditions in life that have been actually robust for us, and the best way we shield ourselves is we’ve got actually gotten good at ignoring ignorance.
Shangela: Or being prepared to fulfill it head on.
Eureka: We do really feel very empowered. We all know what we’re on this city to do. If we don’t rise up for the people who we’re working with, and the folks on this city that don’t have a voice, who’s going to face up for them? With nice energy comes nice accountability, proper?
Shangela: Who stated that?
Eureka: Proper. Who is aware of? Truthfully, typically we simply tackle that accountability to be the sturdy figureheads, particularly because the faces and the our bodies within the city speaking to those folks, having to kill folks with kindness or listening to alternate opinions that are not ours, and having these arduous conversations. We’re making an attempt to show to people who we aren’t their imaginative and prescient of who we have been going to be and present them our genuine selves and the nice facet of the kind of folks we’re as queer folks.
Shangela: For our drag youngsters to proceed to really feel secure after we’re gone, after our safety is gone, all of that—I feel one good thing that our present does is it does unearth a neighborhood of help that folks did not suppose existed for them. So possibly they may really feel extra secure going to their Fourth of July parade with out Bob, Eureka, and Shang. Not less than I do know that Lisa on the espresso store or Sarah on the submit workplace, who I noticed on the drag present, they might rise up for me.
Eureka: [The drag kids] additionally took it upon themselves to create help teams inside social media, the place they keep involved with one another. They provide one another sources and have conversations about their experiences. It’s extra than simply us. There’s lots of people that construct relationships with loads of the children that we work with.
I really feel such as you all hold mentioning the outstanding staff engaged on the present. What does the principally queer and all-allied staff imply to you?
Bob: Our artistic staff is Emmy Award-winning as a result of they create exceptional drag artwork. I am going to by no means shut up in regards to the phenomenal job our award-winning make-up artists and costume designers and sensible hairdressers do on this present. If you wish to see among the finest drag you’ll ever see in your life. I’m telling you, We’re Right here has it.
Eureka: These folks additionally join with our youngsters too. They spend loads of time doing fittings, listening to them discuss, speaking them by means of this strategy of getting them able to carry out. Everybody has somewhat little bit of a task in our drag youngsters’s expertise. So that they’re not simply getting drag moms, they’re getting a drag household.
What does it imply to actually say, “We’re Right here,” we’re in these communities?
Bob: We’re Right here is a superb identify for our present. Irrespective of the place you say it, it’s true. Queer persons are not a race. You may be Black and queer, you may be Asian and queer. But additionally, you want Black folks to make Black folks. You want Asian folks to make Asian folks. Queer folks? We pop up all over the place, from sea to shining sea, from each nook of the globe, there’s a homosexual penguin someplace within the within the Antarctic. We pop up all over the place in each species.
Shangela: The place do you suppose they obtained the film Glad Toes? These have been homosexual ft.
Bob: What makes the present exceptional is that irrespective of the place you say it on the globe, it’s true. We’re right here.
Eureka: I feel we as a queer neighborhood are without end evolving, however not simply as a queer neighborhood—we as folks. All of us go on completely different journeys each season. Every season is totally completely different, as a result of we’re going by means of completely different experiences, at the same time as hosts, at the same time as drag youngsters, at the same time as a authorities, at the same time as a rustic we’re dwelling in. It’s ever altering, and so is the wrestle of being completely different on this world. An increasing number of folks, whether or not you’re queer or not, are beginning to perceive what it’s wish to wrestle since you’re completely different. You don’t match the mould. There’s so many guidelines positioned in straight communities, queer, not queer, no matter. I feel lots of people are exhausted with it. They will’t sustain. They will’t reside as much as the expectation that this morality, or this previous mind-set, has put a lot guilt on each kind of individual in our nation in our world.
We’re simply dwelling proof that we’ve found out a method to get by means of it. I feel straight persons are beginning to see the brilliant facet of what we do as drag queens, what we do as queer folks to get by means of these items. They’re taking notes. They suppose, “Possibly I may begin implementing a few of these issues into my life or my existence to make me really feel somewhat bit higher about myself in a world the place I don’t really feel like I belong both. I’ve entry to fact. And I’ve a coronary heart to empathize.”
This interview has been edited and condensed for readability.
Samuel is the Assistant to the Editor-in-Chief at ELLE Journal. His pursuits embody music, theater, books, video video games, and something to do with Taylor Swift. He famously broke each his arms on the identical time in fourth grade.